Anti-counterfeiting technology solutions based on 2D materials

Counterfeit goods do not only involve luxury goods, but they do extend to personal identification (eg ID cards and passports), cigarettes, banknotes and pharmaceuticals, by affecting national economies and governments and by strongly undermining the health and safety of the citizens. Thus, new and advanced anti-counterfeiting technology solutions are needed. Advanced materials offer new avenues for the development of anti-counterfeiting technologies based on their unique properties. Graphene - a single layer of graphite, discovered in 2004 - is currently being explored for a wide range of applications, spanning from composite to electronics and from energy to biological applications. Graphene, however, is not the only 2-dimensional (2D) material available to us: there are hundreds of layered materials that can be chemically exfoliated to single or few-atomic layers. These include Layered-hydroxides, 2D Metallic-Organic Frameworks, and MXenes, to name a few. In addition, 2D materials can also be produced by bottom-up approaches, based on wet-chemistry. Thus, we have a wide range of solution-processed 2D materials, each showing different properties, depending on their chemical composition, thickness and size. Thus, an identification tag can be built by using unique features associated to an individual 2D crystal or by integrating different 2D crystals, each providing an identification feature. The aim of this project is to bring together expertise in 2D materials production and characterisation to exploit these materials as identification tags for anti-counterfeiting technology solutions. In contrast to previous works [eg Yameng Cao et al 2017 2D Mater. 4 045021], the identification tag will be based on individual 2D nanosheets, produced in solution, and integrated in the products by using simple and low cost techniques, such as drop casting and ink-jet printing. This would allow to easily and directly integrate the identification tag in the product to identify (eg on each cigarette, not only on the packaging). The main goal of this project is to identify, amongst all possible 2D crystals, the most suitable materials to be used as identification tag. The ideal nanomaterial must have a characteristic property (eg emission of light; optical contrast; Raman fingerprint, size and shape, etc), must be produced in high yield and with low cost techniques and should be dispersed in non-toxic solvents. In addition, the security and design features of these tags should be detected by using simple and low-cost methods, such as a camera or an optical microscope, which can allow customers and shops to easily identify the good. A wide range of 2D materials, already produced in the group or commercially available (eg graphene, graphene oxide, layered hydroxides, 2D MOFs, etc) will be investigated. The identification tags, based on the selected materials, will be then tested under different environmental conditions. Encapsulation solutions will also be explored.

Gianluca Fiori
Gianluca Fiori

Gianluca Fiori is Professor at the University of Pisa. He is a leading expert in the simulation of two-dimensional devices, and the main developer of NanoTCAD ViDES, the benchmark simulator for 2D materials based device. He is the recipient of the ERC Consolidator Grant PEP2D, concerned with the simulation, fabrication and characterization of inkjet printed devices made of 2D materials. He is currently the lead for the University of Pisa within the Graphene Flagship project. 

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