Research & development project financed from the NRDI fund

Research & development project financed from the NRDI fund

Project summary

The issue of product safety is of growing importance worldwide. Globally, the development of chemical markers has been carried out independently, without the development of related detection technology. Thus, only human vision remained for the detection of fluorescent dyes. In the course of the joint research and development project of Luminochem Ltd. and Optimal-Optik Ltd., we will create a new product safety system by jointly developing marking materials and detectors suitable for their identification.

The wide range of possibilities offered by instrumental detection expands the repository of chemical markers. Another goal of the project is to develop analytical equipment for the production and quality control of chemical pigments and dyes, which are optimized for the types of materials occurring in this industry, and can be used faster, cheaper and more accurately than general purpose analytical equipment. Their use reduces the time required to develop chemical markers and results in higher quality production.

Luminochem Ltd. is a security pigment supplier founded by a group of chemical engineers with a wide range of international experience in R&D projects and chemical industrial synthesis. The company specializes in developing and manufacturing unique luminescent photoactive materials and markers, with the main focus on organic fluorescent security pigments and dyes, near infra-red absorbing materials and anti-Stokes (up-converter) pigments. By converting scientific results into industrial innovation, it enables its customers to jointly develop the perfect solution in the field of marking technology. Optimal-Optik Ltd. operates in the fields of optics, precision mechanics, optoelectronics. Its primary activity is to provide design, research, and development services to customers. It also manufactures custom optical devices from prototype to medium and high volume production. It also participates in domestic and EU-funded research projects where there is a great demand for its world-leading optical expertise.

Objective of the project

Product misuse can be counterfeiting, smuggling, tax evasion (excise products) or the misuse of products that are faulty originals but of poor quality. Whereas in the past, and traditionally until a few years ago, authentication solutions were typically found in higher value prints such as banknotes, documents, various official documents, securities, high-value travel and entry tickets, the advance of digitization and digital codes in these areas is now significant. However, we believe, also based on our market experience, that the need for various anti-counterfeiting and authenticity protection solutions is not disappearing, but is in fact changing, and that increasingly it is not the documents accompanying the products that market players want to protect, but the products themselves and their packaging. In this area, where products (unlike banknotes, documents and travel tickets) cannot be digitized or dematerialized, this demand is not only continuing but also increasing. For example, in some countries, excisable products are not marked with a stamp or a label to be affixed, but are printed directly on the surface of bottles, flasks and jars, which contain a unique ‘chemical’ origin identifier in addition to the digital code, ensuring that they cannot be copied by unauthorized persons.

Our project aims to develop solutions that, as a unified system, will be able to mark products or groups of products with unique chemical symbols for origin protection purposes, and to create prototype detectors that read and decode these chemical symbols, enabling direct identification of products. In solving these tasks, attention will also be paid to the fact that, unlike banknotes, documents and accompanying documents, they will not be applied on a flat surface, but in many cases on a curved surface (e.g. bottles, flasks, tubes), and that reading and decoding will have to be performed on site on such an ill-defined surface. Most of the “chemical” origin marking is currently based on the use of UV fluorescent materials, with a small use of magnetic or other materials with special optical properties – but the most common are the UV scannable markings that are familiar to everyone from banknotes. Although these signals are examined by instrumentation (UV lamp), the evaluation of the results (visual inspection) is in most cases, but certainly in the first instance, by visual inspection, so that there is a high subjective factor in this examination. This should be supplemented or replaced in the future by signals that do not involve the subjectivity of the human eye but can only be evaluated by ‘smart’ instrumental analysis. This is the type of development that we intend to carry out in our project, the development of chemical tracers that give unique optical-spectral signals and the creation of custom-designed decoding instruments and fluorimeters closely linked to them, which are adapted to the unique optical-spectral signals.

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