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November 28, 2012

Encrypted fabric to thwart fashion fakes


From the November 11, 2012 New Scientist

Your clothes may soon carry a helpful secret. A new type of thread woven into patterns invisible to the naked eye could put an end to fake designer clothes.

Concealed patterns visible only under polarized light are used in some nations' bank notes to deter counterfeiting. To extend the method to other valuables, Christian Müller at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, made a semi-transparent thread from polyethylene and a polymer used in clothes dye. This thread has unique optical properties that allow only certain polarizations to pass through.

Weaving the threads together makes a fabric that looks solid purple to the eye but reveals pink and purple patterns when lit with polarized light (Applied Physics Letters, doi.org/jn6).

Müller says the thread may be used to create unobtrusive logos on designer clothes to thwart knock-offs. He's also looking to make similar threads for use in electronically enhanced textiles that change colorr with electric voltage, so you could alter your fashion with the flick of a switch.

Below, the abstract of Müller's original Applied Physics Letters publication.

Weaving of highly oriented conjugated polymer/polyethylene tapes is demonstrated to permit the generation of concealed patterns that can be detected under appropriate polarized light illumination. This is achieved by exploiting the fact that the amount of transmitted light varies with the superposition sequence of semi-transparent objects that feature a high degree of linear birefringence as well as linear dichroism. An analysis based on Müller calculus provides a theoretical description of the observed optical behavior.

November 28, 2012 at 08:01 PM | Permalink


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This is only useful if the manufacturing, distribution and use of these particular materials can be controlled. Since the clothing industry outsources both materials and production, this will only serve to deter low-effort duplicates which are usually apparent anyway. You can't "stick on" something that will make your product un-replicable as everyone keeps trying to do:


Posted by: Scott | Nov 29, 2012 9:44:07 AM

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