Nano-nabbed: counterfeiters beware
The bright green speck was no bigger than a pin head, but it was a sign that Clint Landrock had created the next big thing in anti-counterfeiting technology.
Six months after the North Vancouver resident peered through the microscope at his experiment, companies that sell security products to the world’s banks were knocking at his door. And in a couple of years, Canadians could see Landrock’s invention when they pay for a latte.
The idea sprang from a hole — a hole 1,500 times thinner than a human hair — which can trap a single wavelength of light. Creating these holes with ion beams, Landrock can specify what kind of light waves he wants to absorb and reflect, which determines what colours will be seen. The technology mimics the structure of the Costa Rican morpho butterfly’s signature blue wing.
“We didn’t expect that these nanoholes would be standalone devices,” Landrock says.
His invention makes holograms a thing of the past. Not only is a nanohole stamp more difficult to recreate, but it can be incorporated into any material rather than glued on.
“The thing about these features is they are so small,” Landrock emphasizes. “And it is not just bank notes [that can use the technology], it’s all kinds of documents that require security.”
The Smithers native studied aerospace engineering at Ryerson University in Toronto before studying bio-medical electrical engineering at Simon Fraser University. Initially, he researched nanoholes under the guidance of SFU engineering science professor Bozena Kaminska. Later they set up their own company, Nanotech Security Corp.
Reaction to the product has been amazing, Landrock says. It was profiled on the Discovery Channel and featured in 30 different news outlets, he says.
Although the buzz of recognition is nice, it’s not what drives him. He just loves science and his field, he says.
“We have ah-ha moments just about every week.”