Vancouver-based company Nanotech Security Corp. has created an anti-counterfeiting technology inspired by butterfly wings. Another example of biomimicry, GreenBiz reports that researchers imitated the way the Morpho butterfly's wings play with light to produce shimmering shades of blue:
"The phenomenon Nanotech employs is similar to the way some animals, including male peacocks, produce iridescent colors: instead of using proteins and other chemicals to produce a hue, the creature’s feathers or scales play with light, using very tiny holes that reflect different colors or wavelengths. The Morpho does this with complicated scales on its wing that produce shimmering blues and greens."
The technique was originally developed by Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and is now licensed to the company. The iridescent security image uses an embossing technique that can be applied to many different surfaces, including plastic, fabric, metal and paper. The technology is still undergoing product trials and has not yet had any commercial uses, according to Nanotech's website.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have been studying a similar anti-counterfeiting technology to be applied to bank notes, this time inspired by the swallowtail butterfly.
The colors "flicker" in a distinctive way, making an authentic security mark or logo easy to identify. The process is done on a scale of nanometers, so it would be difficult and expensive to fake.