Optaglio has established a research unit focused on microholograms or 'holographic dust', partly financed by the EU.
The company - established by a group of scientists from Czech Academy of Science - says microholograms are microscopic metallic particles of a size from 40 micrometres. Seen by a naked eye, they look like just as metallic dust, but viewed under higher magnification they have a regular shape and a holographic surface. Alphanumerical symbols can be engraved into the microholograms, so several levels of inspection are thus enabled "from basic intuitive up to forensic."
Microholograms are generally sealed into plastic foil or paper or added to transparent lacquer, according to to Optagio, which says it has patent protection for the concept.
The research programme willk concentrate on the following areas:
Future microholograms will need to sustain extremely tough conditions such as high temperatures and an aggressive chemical environment. It will enable them to be used for marking of engine parts and for forensic investigation of remains of destroyed documents or products.
New visual effects. Current technology enables application of virtually all visual effects that are used on normal size holograms. However, sometimes it would be useful to have special effects that are good for microhologram inspection and not so interesting on normal size holograms.
Technologies for integration of microholograms into different substances. Existing solutions are powerful for polycarbonate and paper. However, there are also other materials to be covered.
"Microholograms are our unique solution, but they also started a new general trend. In a few years, it will be normal that documents and brand goods are protected against counterfeiting also at the material level. The material will include inspectional micro-particles to prove the genuineness," said Dr Tomas Karenský, senior research manager at Optaglio.
"What we are starting now is a long term program that will generate innovations continuously. It will be backed by our extensive experience from a microholograms application as well as extensive material research in other units of Optaglio Labs, he added.