NEMS Barcodes that Use Nano-Sized Arrays for Clandestine, Tamper-Proof Tracking IDs

Technology #16763

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Researchers
Roozbeh Tabrizian
Swarup Bhunia
Managed By
Richard Croley
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
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US Patent Pending

Enables Low-Power, Contact-Less Readout Schemes, Extreme Miniaturization, and Application on Most Materials

These nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS) barcodes use nano-sized arrays to create microscopic, non-cloneable labels and IDs with unprecedented immunity to counterfeiting. Businesses and other institutions rely on barcodes and other identifiers (i.e. radiofrequency IDs) to monitor and track their inventory for authenticity verification, supply chain management, and automated purchasing and check-out of products. Barcodes dominate the field of automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) because they are easy to use, effective and cheap. However, available barcode systems are vulnerable to counterfeiting and other forms of exploitation, which is particularly problematic when tracking valuable or sensitive items, such as electronics or prescription painkillers. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a nano-electromechanical systems barcode generator that layers or engraves tiny barcodes directly onto a substrate or product, such as mechanical parts, plastic and glass packaging, food and medicine, and medical devices. The microscopic size lends itself to clandestine barcodes and the layering process includes a protective layer; both attributes make the barcodes highly immune to cloning or tampering. In addition, mechanical removal and reapplication of the barcode results in irreversible physical damage.

Application

Non-cloneable, nano-sized barcode generation for AIDC

Advantages

  • Engraves extremely precise nano-dots, providing barcodes that can be either highly well-defined and reproducible or truly random
  • Secures a barcode physically onto an item, making the barcodes highly immune to cloning or fraud
  • Potentially uses biodegradable zinc-oxide nano-film as a transducer component, allowing its safe use in medical products

Technology

The barcode, fingerprint, labeling or watermark device comprises a substrate, a microscopic array of identification dots engraved on a substrate, plus other layers that may include an interdigital transducer, a piezoelectric layer, and passivation or protective layers. The interaction of acoustic waves within the nanostructure dots generates distinct resonance modes that stand out in the frequency response. The pattern generated by each nanostructure represents a spectral signature, which can be detected and identified by a receiving device. Because of the nature of the nanostructure, it cannot be removed from the substrate without irreparable physical damage, unlike a traditional barcode. In addition, the barcode can be clandestine due to its nano-size. Furthermore, the materials used in the barcode are bio-degradable, meaning it can be safely used for biomedical applications.