Polymeric Identification Systems for Unclonable Security Devices

Case Western Reserve University Background
Most, if not all security devices in use today can be corrupted, counterfeited, or easily interpreted. Examples of these devices include credit cards, personal identification cards, passports, pharmaceutical product tracking, currency, product identification tags, etc. One good example of this corruption involves credit cards. The fifty year old “magnetic strip” technology on a credit card has been corrupted by the use of illegal credit card “skimmers” attached to the credit card readers, and reported in the local news as prevalent on gas pumps and ATMs. The newer “chip” technology on credit cards can also be corrupted by the use of credit card “shimmers” which are becoming more prevalent in similar locations. The technology utilized in this patent application is termed “unclonable” since it is vastly more difficult to corrupt, counterfeit or interpret the relevant information.
Technology Overview
This technology utilizes a novel multilayered co-extrusion process to produce a layered structured film which is highly random in layer regularity. This irregularity can be both intrinsic relative to the film production variability and also deliberate based on the utilization of irregular components within the process design. This irregularity in turn allows a vast number of electromagnetic reflected signals to be generated. Each of the observed signals is unique not only to the film produced but also uniquely varied upon the specific location on the film irradiated. That is, even adjoining locations on a specific film will provide unique signals. The signal can be obtained in either the reflected or transmitted mode of the electromagnetic irradiation.
This irradiation also can be outside the visible light region. Only when the reflected signal from the film is “matched” to the prerecorded signal identifying that item is the information confirmed. The technology is termed “unclonable” since once the electromagnetic signal is obtained a replicate or “cloned” film cannot be reproduced that would provide the same reflected or transmitted signal. The size of the film necessary to obtain an identifiable signal is in the two to three millimeter range which can be easily affixed to a credit card, passport, personal ID card, etc.
When the signal on the film is obtained it is first encrypted and transferred to the appropriate institution (i.e., bank, financial institution, hotel, motor vehicle bureau, etc.) and then matched to the signal on file for identification. The matching file contains the relevant personal information and not the card or device. Therefore, the signal, (unique to the film) and the encryption (unique to the institution) prevent any corruption of the personal information which is retained within the institution.
The goal of this work is random information encoding, storage, and retrieval on devices incorporating these multilayer photonic films. The invention utilizes the uneven layering within coextruded multilayer films for secure identification applications. To better contrast this work, prior multilayer patents (both inorganic and organic based) specify the importance of having very regular layer structures which would allow a predetermined signal to be encoded. The present technology is markedly distinct from regular layering photonics, the resulting regular band-gap spectra, and the use of those spectra in identification.
Rather, the approach here is to provide an irregular or randomly layered structure which produces a random, very broad, non-interpretable, band-gap spectrum for use in unique identification devices. In contrast with regular layering photonic structures, this technology includes the potential for materials that can be either inorganic or organic, even if the preferred embodiments are polymeric, hence organically based. In further contrast, irregular or random layering can be obtained through various processing techniques such as block polymers, Langmuir-Blodgett layering, polymer blends and layer-by-layer spray deposition. Conversely, the present technology is processed by multilayer co-extrusion.
Stage of Development
The utilization of the multilayer process for developing these random films has been investigated. Variations in the process and process design to enhance the random multilayer film structure has been studied. Higher temperature materials have been investigated and stability as a function of environmental temperatures determined.
A mock-up version of a “reader” has been developed which obtains information from a replicate “card” in both the transmission mode and the reflected mode. Most items and system components for the readers can be easily obtained from existing manufacturers. The signal identification and matching is obtained by a simple PC card device.
One basic method for interpretation of the obtained spectrum and matching to a recorded spectrum has been developed. More complex methods for signal interpretation, signal encryption and decryption can be further developed.
The benefit of this technology is large since the current technologies have fault in that they can be corrupted, counterfeited or easily interpreted. This technology has the ability to produce countless portions of multilayer film having a signal unique to each film section. Also, variations of the technology that have been protected by intellectual property filings include reflected or transmitted signals outside the visible spectrum, having the multilayer film obscured by a surface hologram and also incorporating the “shape-memory” ability of multilayer films previously developed and reported.
Although not anticipated to incorporate all applications of personal information identification this technology definitely has certain levels for introduction. For example, personal identification cards for private or governmental institutions, or entry cards for hotels or parking facilities can be an initial application platform for introduction.
As outlined in the patent application, certain end-use applications of this technology include:

Banknotes, cheques, bonds, credit cards, money cards
ID, driving license, passport
Secure identity applications – employee ID badges, citizen ID documents, electronic passports, driver’s licenses, online authentication devices
Healthcare applications – citizen health ID cards, physician ID cards, portable medical records cards
Payment applications – contact and contactless credit/debit cards, transit payment cards
Telecommunications applications – GSM Subscriber Identity Modules, pay telephone payment cards.

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