Design Engineering

Vancouver’s Nanotech Security unveils nano-scale anti-counterfeiting measure

By Design Engineering Staff   

General Innovation Nanotechnology Simon Fraser University Vancouver

Simon Fraser engineering scientists synthetically replicate butterfly’s nano-scale structures to create iridescent colors without dyes or inks.

Vancouver – Nanotech Security Corp., with the help of Simon Fraser University researchers, is using a nano-scale milling technique to create an anti-counterfeiting measure for use on banknotes, passports, stock certificates or any item that requires an easily discernable way to verify authenticity.

Based on the phenomenon that gives the wings of the Costa Rican Morpho butterfly its iridescent blue coloring, the company’s Nano-Optic Technology for Enhanced Security (NOtES) works by milling a customizable pattern of microscopic holes, each of which measure a 100 nanometres in diameter. Created using an electron microscope and ion beam as a nanoscale “machine tool”, the nanoholes trap most visible light, but reflect back specific color wavelengths.

According to Doug Blakeway, SFU Venture Connection’s entrepreneur in residence and also CEO and chairman of Nanotech, since there are no dyes or inks involved, the highly sophisticated nature of the process makes it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to replicate.

“You can’t copy or scan it in, you can’t inkjet it on paper, you can’t do any of these things,” Blakeway explained. “Anywhere you can think of where a hologram is being used today, our technology can replace it. It’s more secure than a hologram. You can’t lift it off – we can put it onto metal, plastic or paper.”


According to the company, the U.S. Treasury, which produces up to 11 billion banknotes annually, is a potential customer for Nanotech’s product. The company is currently in talks with the Bank of Canada.

SFU applied sciences grad Clint Landrock started the initial research into nanoholes under the guidance of SFU engineering science professor Bozena Kaminska. Landrock and Kaminska both continue their work as part of Nanotech’s scientific team.

“When this was initially presented to me by Bozena and ClintI immediately saw their vision and they were only after one application – creating anti-counterfeiting features for banknotes,” said Blakeway. “I felt this could be the first commercial application of nanotechnology in the world. I kept thinking of applications for it and how it could be used; the technologies and potential astound me.”


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