Color-changing inks

Fluorescence continues to be a significant feature in document security and anti-counterfeiting efforts. The history of fluorescence goes back more than 150 years, when European scientists discovered fluorescence and developed fluorescent pigments. With so many security measures relying on the transmission of encoded information without any so-called “paper trail” or traceable tags, fluorescence may seem like a passing thought. 

Stakeholders in the security industry may believe that fluorescence is too easily obtainable through Hobby Lobby, Amazon, and other retailers. But you get what you pay for. World-class, security-grade fluorescence simply isn’t easily obtainable. 

But fluorescence is here to stay. In fact, it can supplement high-tech information transmission.

We explain why.

Most Fluorescent Security Inks Are Difficult to Erase

Advanced printed fluorescent security features are very difficult to erase. They’re designed to hang on, even at the molecular level. Hand-held spectroscopy can discern between easily obtainable materials and advanced fluorescence. 

Cloud-based authentication has its limits. What happens if a device stops transmitting? What about signal interference? Your logistics team can’t control interference from outside sources, outdated devices, or third parties that fail to update software or firmware needed to run cloud-based systems.

Fluorescence, along with other physical document security features, don’t fail as easily. You can have purely on-site detection systems that don’t rely on cloud-based or wireless applications off-site that you have no control over. 

Better Security for Breeder Documents

Breeder documents, like birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, and other identity documents, would be hard to manage as cloud-only documents accessed through smartphones. A better way to secure them is through the digital ID coupled with a physical ID that includes fluorescence and an array of other detectable document security features. Fluorescence and other physical security measures offer a viable backup when digital documentation fails or is inadequate, even when digital IDs become more widespread in their usage.

Fluorescence Tags on Seeds

Seed coatings can have fluorescence on them to authenticate where they originated from. This kind of security is impossible in cloud-based systems or IoT/RFID tags, which can be interfered with thanks to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi signals operating at frequencies near the ones of the devices or tags. The tags themselves can become damaged during handling and transport.

In addition to having fluorescent tags on the shipping containers of seeds, taggants can exist on the seeds themselves without damaging the biological components inside. The reason is that the seed husks are sturdy and hard to penetrate, while the fluorescence taggants are only on the outer layer.

What Happens When Wireless Tools Are Lost?

Authentication protocols all have a lot of parts that must work together to be effective, fluorescence included. Let’s say a member of a logistics team carries a device to authenticate shipments leaving a major city. What does the security firm do if that worker loses the device? What’s the backup plan? What if that person quits and doesn’t return the device? Yes, there should be protocols in place to deal with that kind of data breach. But should the authentication process be solely reliant on cloud-based systems? 

Physical documents containing security features, including fluorescence, can serve as the backup when wireless transmissions or IoT devices fail as the primary authentication. Consider this: Use a UV light to illuminate a hidden/invisible barcode imprinted on shipping containers. All it takes is an ordinary barcode reader, prevalent in many smartphone apps and using the phone’s native camera, to scan the barcode and authenticate it. The information can be transmitted to stakeholders despite the primary method failing. 

You can have custom-made fluorescence detectors that rely on their own internal microprocessors, custom programming, and digital filtering that don’t necessarily rely on transmitting data. You can keep all authentication in-house, so to speak.

Polymer Currency Needs Fluorescent Security Features Too

Polymer banknotes continue to gain in popularity as more countries adopt them. Fluorescence can be used in polymer banknotes to detect authenticity, as with traditional cotton-cloth currency. The printing process is slightly different with polymer banknotes, but it still works. Ultraviolet detection systems can see through the outer layers of polymer to interact with ink to create a color-changing effect to detect and prevent counterfeiting. Some polymer notes currently have advanced fluorescent features on them in addition to other physical security.

Advanced Fluorescence Is Difficult to Interfere With When Developed Properly

Detection by advanced fluorescence, along with other tamper-evident features, is difficult to interfere with. If someone decides to tamper with a security document, either in a passport or on a shipping container, those documents are considered counterfeit. If the documents are intact and behave as they should, they are considered authentic.

Ensure your systems are working properly by having the required UV output of 365 nm to detect advanced fluorescence. 400 nm systems may not be adequate. Low batteries on handheld devices may also cause faulty readings.

If you see fading in fluorescence, that is a common sign of counterfeit or easily obtainable fluorescence, which are both less durable. Advanced fluorescence materials are less susceptible to fading due to light. 

Advanced Fluorescence Systems From Angstrom Technologies, Inc. 

Our team of top Ph.D. chemists believes that fluorescence is here to stay for several reasons. Even if you have a robust wireless, cloud-based system in place for anti-counterfeiting, authentication, and security, advanced fluorescence detection can serve as a viable backup. 

Angstrom Technologies, Inc., specializes in advanced fluorescent dyes, inks, and taggants to foster better security and authentication processes for your organization.
Contact us or call 859-282-0020 to connect with our team.

Read More Angstrom Blogs

Talk With Angstrom Technologies, Inc.

Contact Angstrom Technologies, Inc., for information regarding our luminescent products and services for your document security, brand protection and process control applications.