Radiative lifetime-encoded unicolour security tags using perovskite nanocrystals

Nat Commun. 2021 Feb 12;12(1):981. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-21214-3.


Traditional fluorescence-based tags, used for anticounterfeiting, rely on primitive pattern matching and visual identification; additional covert security features such as fluorescent lifetime or pattern masking are advantageous if fraud is to be deterred. Herein, we present an electrohydrodynamically printed unicolour multi-fluorescent-lifetime security tag system composed of lifetime-tunable lead-halide perovskite nanocrystals that can be deciphered with both existing time-correlated single-photon counting fluorescence-lifetime imaging microscopy and a novel time-of-flight prototype. We find that unicolour or matching emission wavelength materials can be prepared through cation-engineering with the partial substitution of formamidinium for ethylenediammonium to generate "hollow" formamidinium lead bromide perovskite nanocrystals; these materials can be successfully printed into fluorescence-lifetime-encoded-quick-read tags that are protected from conventional readers. Furthermore, we also demonstrate that a portable, cost-effective time-of-flight fluorescence-lifetime imaging prototype can also decipher these codes. A single comprehensive approach combining these innovations may be eventually deployed to protect both producers and consumers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't