Industry is always trying to figure out new ways to stymie counterfeiters, and these tiny colored balls might be the coolest breakthrough we’ve seen in a while. They’re known colloquially as “Janus balls,” and they have the unique property of switching their orientation under a magnetic field. A study published in ACS Nano describes the unique orbs in detail.
The microscopic Janus balls, named after the Roman god of duality who had two faces, one on each side of his head, are colored in two different hues. They’re composed of two different types of resins – one which contains magnetic nanoparticles and the other non-magnetic silica. The magnetic side shows as solid black, but when a magnet is brought to the surface it flips them over to show the colored silica side.
The application of this technology to deter counterfeiters is pretty clear – special tags could be made for the products that could contain patterns made from the Janus balls, so purchasers could check to ensure that they were getting the real deal. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before criminals develop the technology to make them as well, but that’s just kind of how things work in this world.
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