SICPA, UbiQD quantum dot security tech nears market

Swiss tech company SICPA has expanded a partnership with UbiQD of the US that is focused on the development of security inks based on quantum dots.

Quantum dots – also known as colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals – have 'tunable' optical properties such as photoluminescence and are already finding commercial applications in device such as ultra-high density televisions.

Their ability to emit different wavelengths of light means they are also being developed as an alternative to dyes and pigments for security features, as they are very difficult to reproduce and can be used to combat counterfeiting and strengthen security applications.

Optical properties can be "programmed" into these materials by modifying the conditions in which they are manufactured, leading to different sizes, shapes and compositions. That could give them an advantage over the current generation of security inks, whose optical spectra can be vulnerable to reproduction.

"This partnership with UbiQD has enabled us to develop cutting-edge optical and machine-readable features that we will be able to add to our robust portfolio of security inks and solutions for our clients," said Scott Haubrich, R&D director of SICPA US, in a statement.

The two companies have been co-developing quantum dot-based security features for the past six years. Now, having achieved a number of technical milestones in the programme, they have decided to expand the partnership as it develops towards the commercial stage.

There are a number of other companies working on anti-counterfeit and security applications for quantum dots, but the field has been held back because many technologies are too expensive to produce or have toxicity issues.

"With SICPA's domain expertise and leadership position in security markets, and its proprietary sensor and ink technologies, UbiQD has an ideal partner to commercialise our quantum dot technology for anti-counterfeiting, brand protection, supply chain integrity, and more," said Hunter McDaniel, the company's chief executive.

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