Lockheed Martin patents anti-counterfeit nanotubes

US aerospace firm Lockheed Martin has been awarded a US patent for anti-counterfeit markers made using carbon nanotubes.

The company - which says like many others in its industry and others it is battling counterfeiting that is growing "in exponential proportions" - believes the markers could provide "significant advantages over conventionally-used identifying marks."

The patent notes that the properties of carbon nanotubes - in particular their ability to conduct electricity - means that the marks can be "interrogated" by looking for a specific conductance pattern. The marks can be invisible to the naked eye and do not even have to be on the surface of the item to be measured, preventing them from tampering.

The abstract of the patent appears below:

Articles containing non-visible identifying marks formed from carbon nanomaterials and methods utilizing the same

Abstract: Identifying marks are often used for authentication and tracking purposes with various types of articles, but the marks themselves can sometimes be subject to replication or removal by an outside entity, such as a person or group having malicious intent. This can make it easier for an outside entity to produce a counterfeit article or to sell a stolen article. Carbon nanotubes and other carbon nanomaterials can be used to form identifying marks that are not visible to the naked eye, thereby making the marks more difficult for an outside entity to tamper with. Various articles can include an identifying mark that is localized and not visible to the naked eye, the identifying mark being electrically conductive and containing a carbon nanomaterial. By electrically interrogating the article, such as through spatially measuring eddy currents about the article, the marks can be located and authenticated.

US Patent No. 9,360,589

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