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Reversible decryption of covert nanometer-thick patterns in modular metamaterials

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Abstract

Continuous development of security features is mandatory for the fight against forgery of valuable documents and products, the most notable example being banknotes. Such features demonstrate specific properties under certain stimuli such as fluorescent patterns glowing under ultraviolet light. These security features should also be hard to copy by unlicensed people and be interrogated by anyone using easily accessible tools. To this end, this Letter demonstrates the development of an ideal security feature enabled by the realization of modular metamaterials based on metal–dielectric–metal cavities that consist of two separate parts: metal nanoparticles on an elastomeric substrate and a bottom mirror coated with a thin dielectric. Patterns generated by creating nanometer-thick changes in the dielectric layer are invisible (encrypted) and can only be detected (decrypted) by sticking the elastomeric patch on. The observed optical effects such as visibility and colors can only be produced with the correct combination of materials and film thicknesses, making the proposed structures a strong alternative to compromised security features.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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Supplementary Material (2)

NameDescription
Visualization 1       Dynamic decryption and re-encryption of a pattern.
Visualization 2       Optical decryption and re-encryption of a QR code.

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