Science

The Real McCoy?

Fakes are so convincing today that even a hologram of Queen Elizabeth can be paraded in a gold carriage without those cheering her passing by aware that what they are looking at is not the real thing.

Fake products are a major concern for many industries especially those trying to sell quality merchandise be it designer clothing, accessories and now even whisky.

A little silk tag with a QR code is a security measure that could reveal if the whisky you are wanting to buy is fake. Simply using a smartphone to scan the tag, which was developed by biomedical engineers from Purdue University and the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences in South Korea, could confirm the drink’s authenticity.

Image credit: Purdue University photo/John Underwood

The code on the fluorescent silk tag is the equivalent of a barcode or QR code and is not visible to the naked eye. The tags are also edible, causing no issues if a person swallowed it while downing a shot of whisky. The developers say the tags have not affected the taste of the drink.

Making the tags involves processing fluorescent silk cocoons from specialized silkworms to create a biopolymer, which can be formed into a variety of patterns to encode the information.

Researchers Young Kim and Jungwoo Leem. say that this technology can also be used to detect counterfeit medicines.

Young Kim said:

“Counterfeit items, such as medicines and alcohol, are big issues around the world. There are numerous examples of large amounts of fake medications sold throughout the world, which, in some instances, kill people.

“If you have this technology on or in your medicines, you can use your smartphone to authenticate. We want to empower patients to be aware of this issue. We want to work with pharmaceutical companies and alcohol producers to help them address this issue.”

Jungwoo Leem, a postdoctoral research associate, and Young Kim, both of Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, are part of a global research team that has developed an edible QR code on a tag made of specialized silk which could help consumers detect fake whisky. Image credit Purdue University photo/John Underwood

You can read more about that development here: Edible Matrix Code with Photogenic Silk Proteins

2 replies »

  1. The Real McCoy are The Orkney News publishing Real News unlike what passes for news in the rest of the media

Leave a Reply to Robert Martin Cancel reply