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Scientists have discovered a way to authenticate or identify any object by generating an unbreakable ID based on atoms.
The technology, which is being patented at Lancaster University and commercialised through the spin-out company Quantum Base, uses next-generation nanomaterials to enable the unique identification of any product with guaranteed security.
The research published today in Nature’s Scientific Reports uses atomic-scale imperfections that are impossible to clone as they comprise the unmanipulable building blocks of matter.
First author Jonathan Roberts, a Lancaster University Physics PhD student of the EPSRC NOWNANO Doctoral Training Centre, said: “The invention involves the creation of devices with unique identities on a nano-scale employing state-of-art quantum technology. Each device we’ve made is unique, 100% secure and impossible to copy or clone.”
Current authentication solutions such as anti-counterfeit tags or password-protection base their security on replication difficulty, or on secrecy, and are renowned for being insecure and relatively easy to forge. For example, current anti-counterfeiting technology such as holograms can be imitated, and passwords can be stolen, hacked and intercepted.
The ground-breaking atomic-scale devices do not require passwords, and are impervious to cloning, making them the most secure system ever made. Coupled with the fact that they can be incorporated into any material makes them an ideal candidate to replace existing authentication technologies.
Writing in Nature’s Scientific Reports, the researchers said: “Simulating these structures requires vast computing power and is not achievable in a reasonable timescale, even with a quantum computer. When coupled with the fact that the underlying structure is unknown, unless dismantled atom-by-atom, this makes simulation extremely difficult.
Electronically stimulating an atomically random system, represented above by a key, produces a unique pattern that can be used for authentication or identification purposes whilst being fundamentally unclonable.