Fake goods and money are a tremendous struggle for governments worldwide.
Invisible QR codes have now been created by researchers in the United States in order to help to combat the large and growing problem of counterfeit goods.
These barcodes have already proven highly effective in the marketing industry.
This new invisible version of the QR codes can be printed on many different types of materials, ranging from paper to glass, and cannot be seen by the naked eye unless it is exposed to infrared light.
The complexity of the QR codes makes them exceptionally hard to replicate, said the researchers.
Counterfeit banknotes and products currently cost governments and industries around the world billions of dollars every year. This latest effort with the barcodes is one of many that are being developed in order to help to counteract this issue.
The reason that QR codes were specifically chosen is that they can contain more than 100 times the data that is available in traditional barcodes. Moreover, they are already well established in mcommmerce thanks to their regular use by the marketing industry. Mobile marketers enjoy their low cost and ability to share product information quickly and easily with consumers.
The invisible QR codes technique was developed by University of South Dakota and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology researchers. It was created specifically to provide a new way of authenticating products and banknotes, as opposed to their more typical use as bridges to information.
The invisible barcodes can be scanned in the same way as any other QR codes, using a smartphone or tablet, provided that it has first been exposed to infrared laser light in order to make it visible so that its location can be identified.
The barcodes were created using microscopic nano-particles that have been combined with green and blue florescence ink. They are capable of photon absorption at a wavelength that is not visible to the naked eye, but can then emit them in a wavelength that is visible. This is known as upconversion. By working this technology into products and banknotes, it makes it easier to mark them to avoid counterfeit replication, and to identify the fakes.