Ingenia Technology Limited has launched an exciting
breakthrough proprietary technology, developed by
Imperial College London and Durham University - the
Laser Surface Authentication system (LSA). The LSA
system recognises the inherent 'fingerprint' within
all materials such as paper, plastic, metal and ceramics.
The LSA system is a whole new approach to security
and could prove valuable in the war against terrorism
through its ability to make secure the authenticity
of passports, ID cards and other documents such as
This technological breakthrough has been masterminded
by Professor Russell Cowburn, Professor of Nanotechnology
in the Department of Physics at Imperial College
Every paper, plastic, metal and ceramic surface
is microscopically different and has its own 'fingerprint'.
Professor Cowburn's LSA system uses a laser to read
this naturally occurring 'fingerprint'. The accuracy
of measurement is often greater than that of DNA
with a reliability of at least one million trillion.
The inherent 'fingerprint' is impossible to replicate
and can be easily read using a low-cost portable
laser scanner. This applies to almost all paper and
plastic documents, including passports, credit cards
and product packaging.
As well as the security implications, the technology
can be applied to commercial applications, particularly
packaging. For example, in the case of pharmaceuticals,
up to 10% of all pharmaceuticals are counterfeits
either containing little or no active ingredients.
They can be easily identified with this new technology.
Inspection agencies and customs controls could use
the technology to confirm the identity of imported
goods and prevent counterfeit. This could potentially
save millions through the avoidance of fraud and
reduce the flow of funds to would-be terrorists.
The nearest comparisons to this technology are:
barcodes, holograms and watermarks. The main difference
is that these products are overt, and therefore more
liable to abuse, whereas Professor Cowburn's is covert
(invisible to the naked eye). Also Professor Cowburn's
technology is resistant to damage and cannot be copied.
The LSA system has been brought to market by Ingenia
Technology Limited, a London-based company which
deploys nanoscience to create secure systems.
findings open the way to a new and much simpler
approach to authentication and tracking. This is
a system so secure that not even the inventors
would be able to crack it since there is no known
manufacturing process for copying surface imperfections
at the necessary level of precision.
"This system can be a powerful weapon against
fraud, terrorism and identity theft," said Professor
Explaining the scientific background to his breakthrough,
Professor Cowburn added:
unique 'fingerprint' is formed by microscopic surface
imperfections on almost all paper documents, plastic
cards and product packaging. That is what makes
it possible to develop a much cheaper system to
combat fraud. This inherent identity code is virtually
impossible to modify. It can easily be read using
a low-cost portable laser scanner.
all non-reflective surfaces have naturally occurring
roughness that is a source of physical randomness,
our technology can provide in-built security for
a range of objects such as passports, ID and credit
cards and pharmaceutical packaging. It can be cheaper
and more reliable than current methods such as
holograms and security ink.
research team used the optical phenomenon of 'laser
speckle' to examine the fine structure of different
surfaces using a focused laser.
tried the technique on a variety of materials including
matt-finish plastic cards, identity cards and coated
paperboard packaging. The result was a clear recognition
between the samples. This continued even after
they were subjected to rough handling, including
submersion in water, scorching, scrubbing with
an abrasive cleaning pad and being scribbled on
with thick black marker.
beauty of this system is that we do not need to
modify the item being protected in any way with
tags, chips or ink - it is as if documents and
packaging had their own unique DNA. This makes
protection secret, simple to integrate into the
manufacturing process and immune to attack.
can be applied retrospectively and is no threat
to personal privacy."
Ingenia Technology Limited
Ingenia Technology Limited (ITL) was founded in 2004
with its headquarters in London. Ingenia Technology
Limited is an emerging international company in
the authentication and verification of papers,
plastics and metals, as used in documents, ID cards
and product packaging. Its mission is to create
the next generation of security technology, solving
critical inadequacies in existing solutions. To
do this, ITL has worked closely with Durham University
and Imperial College London through Prof Russell
Cowburn, and continues to do so.