Quantum dot specialists link up to tackle fake products

quantum dotsTwo US firms have joined forces to apply a technology already established in drug discovery to the fight against brand counterfeiting.

Life Technologies Corp and Nanosys have cross-licensed their intellectual property rights relating to quantum dots, fluorescent nanocrystals that are used as an alternative to dyes to tag molecules in biological assays.

They intend to develop quantum dot-based markers that can be used to trace the source of products, manage and track product shipments, and help prevent counterfeit material use in pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and a wide range of other products.

Quantum dots are nanometre-scale fluorescent particles that emit intense light – in a range of colours depending on their size - when exposed to violet or ultraviolet light sources.

The particles can be blended with polymers, gels, or inks and printed onto most surfaces, according to the companies. The complexity of their manufacturing process also makes them almost impossible to counterfeit.

Together, the two companies hold more than 270 patents and applications, including 84 issued US patents, for the use of fluorescent nanocrystals. The potential market is huge given that the annual trade in counterfeit goods, excluding fake currency, is valued at $1 trillion.

Nanosys is currently using quantum dot technology to produce devices such as LEDs, photovoltaics and electronic displays, while Life Technologies is focused on life science applications, including in vitro and in vivo cell imaging, flow cytometry, tumour margin detection, and protein detection.

Nanosys and Life Technologies are however not the first companies to try to commercialise this technology in the counterfeiting arena. Another US company, Evident Technologies, has been formulating inks and paints with quantum dots for anti-counterfeiting applications since 2005.

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