FAQ

Who manufactures banknotes or paper currency?

There are 174 central banks or issuing authorities in the world who ultimately control the production and distribution of currency. Many larger countries have their own banknote printing works and some of the very largest have their own paper mills. Of the 140 billion banknotes produced annually approximately 20 billion, or 14%, will be produced by commercial currency printers with the rest produced in state printing works.

What is a master shim?

Nanotech Security recently created the world’s first nanoscale master shim. Manufacturers can use this shim to create Nanotech’s production shim for use on production machinery to generate finished nano-hole structures on materials in large volumes, quickly and cost-effectively, and without changes to the inline manufacturing processes.

The master shim is essentially impossible to forge, given the sophisticated technology, algorithms, expertise and specialized lab-like clean rooms required to produce them.

Simultaneously, the technology is accessible and affordable to manufacturers: KolourOptik® nanostructures don’t require additional materials in the manufacturing process as they can be embossed from an production shim directly onto any material. Holograms, by comparison, are printed on separate materials, then machine-cut, and then bonded to products and other materials.

What is the master shim made of?

Nanotech’s masters are constructed from high caliber highly uniform materials such as silicon and quartz (silica) semiconductor shims that are similar to those used in the fabrication of integrated circuits. These robust master shims are then used to cast subsequent production shim, which can be made of nearly any material the manufacturer wishes.

Aside from banknotes, where else can KolourOptik technology be applied?

The practical applications of KolourOptik® images are wide-spread – as the KolourOptik process can be used to create a security feature directly on a wide variety of materials. KolourOptik images can be applied to any product that currently uses holograms, colour shifting inks, RFID or magnetic tags. This could include passports, ID cards and security documents. As well, KolourOptik images are well-suited as a brand authentication measure for consumer products such as sportswear, computer software and hardware, electronics, clothing and jewelry, pharmaceuticals, and even aerospace and automotive parts. Tax stamps used on tobacco and pharmaceuticals are further examples of KolourOptik technology uses.

How expensive is it to use KolourOptik technology to authenticate banknotes versus current techniques?

KolourOptik images are very cost effective. Since it can be applied directly to the banknote substrate (in either conventional rag stock or the new polymer plastic materials) no additional materials are required for production. KolourOptik images do not require inks or layers of applications to apply, again allowing for an inexpensive application. KolourOptik images can be also applied in a high-speed process and on roll-to-roll machinery using our sophisticated production shim. All these processes can be run at the same time as other features are being added, so no extra time is required for production.

How does a KolourOptik image differ from a hologram?

Holograms use standard diffraction and reflection to split light into specific wavelengths or colours, similar to a prism. A KolourOptik image captures the light on the surface, like a light-wave radio antenna, and reflects to create its striking iridescence. As such, KolourOptik images does not require a highly-reflective surface like holograms do, and can be directly applied to transparent plastics which cannot be removed and repositioned on another article. Because KolourOptik images require highly-specialized equipment, patented algorithms and extensive scientific expertise to replicate, it is more secure than holograms. KolourOptis images have an exclusive feature that allows it to be viewed from either side of the polymer banknote with its attributes being viewed at the same angles or at different angles, matching the customer’s requirements.

What is ‘OTF’?

OTF stands for Optical Thin Film.  Thin film optics is a specific area of optics where very thin structured layers of varying materials are engineered to produce specific optical effects through interference, refraction, absorption, and reflection.  In general, the thickness of an optically thin film is on the order of a wavelength of light, often 1/2 or 1/4 wavelength thicknesses are common. A common example of an OTF optical effect is the colours seen in soap bubbles and oil slicks.

What is NanoShift?

NanoShift is an OTF that has colour shift materials which reflect a specific set of wavelengths of light to create vibrant colour shifting materials. As the angle of view changes the material will shift from one colour to the next.

How many colours are available in Nanotech’s NanoShift?

NanoShift has 6 standard colour shifts that are available, and up to 200 different shades of each colour shift that can be customized.

  1.   Magenta to Green
  2.   Green to Blue
  3.   Yellow (or Gold) to Green
  4.   Magenta to Yellow (Gold)
  5.   Blue to Magenta
  6.   Green to Magenta

How is OTF produced?

Nanotech uses custom built roll to roll physical vapour deposition (PVD) coaters to precisely coat each thin film layer on a web roll of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Nanotech uses either e-beam or sputtering PVD.

What materials can Nanotech deposit using roll to roll PVD?

Nanotech can deposit a wide range of thin film materials, from metals such as aluminum, chromium, copper, silver, gold, and a variety of alloys, to ceramics and oxides used for low / high index of refraction optical stacks. These materials include SiO2, Nb2O5, ZnO, ZnS.

Why use colour shift?

  • It is simple to interpret, and can be viewed in almost any lighting condition
  • It is unique and difficult to simulate using other “off the self” technologies
  • The production equipment required is very expensive, and the manufacturing of thin film optics is very difficult requiring a lot of know-how that and poises a major barrier to entry for counterfeiters
  • Thin film colour shift is very durable and has been proven as a high fitness security feature on banknotes for over 25 years
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