Fakes go back to the first time an “original” was considered valuable. The fight to eradicate fake never succeeded. It does not mean that fakes were not spotted, nor that those involved in their production and sale were not persecuted. It is just the the incentive to produce fakes has remained too strong to eradicate the “fake” industry.
Today the estimate is that fakes generate a loss of revenue in the order of 500 billion US$ per year worldwide. Of these 200B$ are tied to fake medicine and here the problem is broader than loss of revenue since quite often fake drugs hampers the cure of patients. It is not just medice. There have been detection of fakes in airplanes spare parts (posing frightening concern of flight safety…) as well as in cars spare parts.
So far the technologies used to detect fake have mostly stimulated technology evolution to produce better fakes, better in the sense of being more difficult to detect them.
Now a team of researchers from Lancaster University and their spin off company Quantum Base claim to have invented a system that would make possible to check the veracity of a component, be it a luxury good, a medicine or a industrial spare part, with just a smartphone.
The system is based on irregularities on a sheet of graphene (one atom thick) that are absolutely impossible to reproduce. By adding a nanosheet to a component and mirroring its irregularity in the “Cloud” one can insure the possibility to check the veracity of that component since these irregularities become its unique identity.
By using quantum physics it is possible to amplify these irregularities and read them using a smartphone.