The reproduction you see here of Johannes Vermeer’s iconic painting Girl with a Pearl Earring is not a photograph or lithograph. It’s actually made with millions of tiny holes arrayed on optical thin film that interact with light to alter the colours depending on the angle and light source. And it’s the subject of two patents awarded in May in the United States and Europe for Vancouver-based Nanotech Security.
The “Pearl” plasmonic colour technology is aimed first at the banknote market, though additional markets include everything from passports to product labels. The images can be made to give the impression of three-dimensionality, high-definition and even motion. By creating a technology that can’t be copied by counterfeiters or brand knockoffs, the images layered into optical thin film can be easily recognized as authentic—or exposed as fakes—by average cashiers using nothing more technical or costly than their own two eyes.
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