Researchers at the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT) have developed a tamper-proof ID label that is intended to guarantee the authenticity of products. The system relies on adhesive for unique identification.

As digitalization advances, the risk of product counterfeiting increases. Criminals are constantly finding new ways to overcome identification systems and outsmart corporations. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have therefore developed a solution to guarantee the authenticity of products.

They developed a tiny, tamper-proof ID tag that is designed to authenticate almost anything. This ID tag, which is several times smaller and significantly cheaper than traditional radio frequency identification tags (RFIDs), is said to provide improved security through the use of terahertz waves. Because such waves are smaller and have a higher frequency than radio waves.

MIT uses adhesive patterns for tamper-proof ID label

However, like traditional RFIDs, the technology initially had a disadvantage. This is because counterfeiters could remove the label from a genuine item and attach it to counterfeits without the authentication system detecting it. The researchers therefore further developed the ID label to prevent manipulation.

The label is still smaller and cheaper to produce. For protection, the researchers mixed microscopic metal particles into the adhesive that attaches the label to an object. They then used terahertz waves to detect the unique pattern these particles form on the object's surface.

Similar to a fingerprint, the system then uses this random adhesive pattern to authenticate an item.

Removing the tag destroys patterns and thus identifies abuse

The metal particles act like mirrors for the terahertz waves. After the researchers directed a series of mirror pieces onto a surface and shined light on them, a different reflection pattern emerged depending on the orientation, size and location of these mirrors.

If the label is removed, this pattern will be irretrievably destroyed. The ID tag is approximately four square millimeters in size and uses light as an energy source. According to the researchers, a computer system detects manipulation of the system 99 percent of the time. They see a possible area of ​​application as monitoring supply chains to ensure proof of origin.

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