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Sophisticated Security

Prof's encryption technique could lead to more secure documents

A new way to encrypt a signature and fingerprints into a passport may lead to shorter lineups at customs. “This technology will give security authorities the confidence that documents are not fake,” says U of T chemistry professor Eugenia Kumacheva.

Researchers at U of T and Princess Margaret Hospital created a thin film of polymer material from capsules containing three different dyes. Each capsule has three layers, yet is just a few millionths of a centimetre in diameter. The dye inside each layer is sensitive to light at a particular wavelength – ultraviolet, visible or infrared. With high-intensity irradiation, Kumacheva uses different wavelengths to encrypt several different patterns onto a security document.

To the naked eye, the identification document might reveal only a photograph, but other detection devices can locate additional ID, such as a signature or fingerprints. “It gives a very high level of data encryption and is relatively cheap to produce,” says Kumacheva, who has secured a patent on the technology, which could be available within five years.

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