Scientists from QinetiQ and the University of Exeter have teamed up to develop new anti-counterfeit and radio-frequency technologies built on a portfolio of patented technology.
The work will be based on physical sciences research in the area of tailored electromagnetic materials made by studying the wings of butterflies.
According to the two organisations, by understanding how the wing surfaces control light to produce iridescence, the team will apply the same physics to control infrared, microwave or radio wave radiation to develop new anti-counterfeit technology, radio-frequency identification technology, wi-fi efficiency and security applications.
The initial product targets are in RFID and Anti-Counterfeiting measures (ACF).
“Simple RFID tags have become commonplace in stores and libraries to aid item location and prevent theft,” say the two organisations. “The team will use its research into controlling electromagnetic radiation in the ultra high frequency (UHF) band to eliminate interference, improve accuracy and deliver performance improvements in RFID.”
“Butterfly wings create a myriad of visual effects through subtle changes in the size, shape or structure of fine scales on their surface which can refract or absorb light and produce vivid colours,” says Dr Andrew Treen, QinetiQ’s entrepreneur within the project. “By understanding the underlying optical properties, we can develop and apply the principles to a variety of other commercial applications in the infrared, microwave and radio wave segments of the spectrum and develop solutions that will help society.
The £3.2m project is funded through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) Knowledge Transfer Accounts (KTA), which were established to help translate research into business innovation.
The team aims to launch its first innovation in spring 2010 and will be hosting a number of investor forum events at the University and in London.