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Future without Fakes

Graphene irregularities observed with an atomic microscope (looking like bumps…). The image represents an area that is approximately 40nm square. Credit: Credit: NIST/Georgia Tech

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.

 

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He’s currently Head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital, co-chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until Aprile 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento.
He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.
He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.

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