Topology specific security holograms

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Topology specific metasurface holograms on a bottle and a banknote
Topology specific metasurface holograms on a bottle and a banknote

University: University of St Andrews

Sector(s): Food & Drink, Chemical, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences, Materials

About Opportunity:

The most prominent high security holographic anti-counterfeiting techniques include dot-matrix holograms and electron beam defined holograms. Dot-matrix holograms employ a grating array (with feature size in the range of 10um) to produce a holographic image. Electron beam defined holograms are a more secure, efficient, but expensive alternative. Their features have sub-wavelength scales (<0.1um) and they can engineer light more precisely to form superior holographic images.

Electron beam hologram features include: excellent security, extreme difficulty to copy, ease of verification, excellent holographic images, hidden images, and kinematic text.

We propose an anti-counterfeiting hologram based on electron beam lithography, which only gives a clear holographic image when conformed to a particular surface profile, and illuminated with a particular circular polarisation. Our design operates in reflection or transmission, and can be viewed on a screen, CCD, or directly by the human eye. The holograms are comprised of sub-wavelength features (~200 nm), where the de-phasing profile is encoded by altering the geometric properties of each feature. If the hologram is not given a pre-designed shape, it would produce a strongly distorted holographic image (e.g. of text, picture, QR/bar code).

Key Benefits:

  • A security hologram capable of being applied to a range of substrates and shapes
  • The hologram only gives a clear image when conformed to a particular surface topology
  • The image can be polarisation dependent
  • The holographic image is viewed with a laser either on a screeen, CCD or directly with the human eye, in transmission or reflection
  • The holograms are extraordinarily difficult to counterfeit


  • Our device can be incorporated into flexible supports (e.g. banknotes and documents) or applied to shaped objects such as embossed or curved bottles (e.g. medical bottles, or bottles with high value contents). The reading and/or validation of the holograms can be integrated with standard commercial systems (e.g. cash dispensing machines) or tailored to specific end-user applications (e.g. via ad-hoc sourcing and detecting sub-systems).
  • A security hologram for high value items such as banknotes, identification documents, spirits, perfumes and medications

IP Status:

The University filed UK Patent Application no 1719588.4 on 24 November 2017 covering this technology.

We are seeking a partner to fund and co-develop applications and uses of the technology, with a view to out-licensing the IP to users.


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