A Carlsbad-based company is behind the technology that is really in its infancy, but with the help of an ultra-violet light, its future is bright.
From handbags to hundreds, watches to wedges, counterfeiting was a $287 billion business in the U.S. last year.
Joe Beechem is literally shedding light on a new way to curb counterfeiting. The company he works for, San Diego-based Life Technologies, has figured out a way to take tiny molecules - called quantum dots - arrange them in unique ways and place them on everyday goods.
"When we put these small non-materials together they're basically invisible to your eyes until you put a particular kind of light on them. And then they shine off light you can see and have a very unique signature you can look at with your eyes," Beechem explained.
Beechem says it's technology that's tough to copy because they're putting together thousands of quantum dots in a sequence that would have to be perfectly copied.
"When we make these materials brick by brick it's almost impossible for somebody outside our manufacturing facility to make them in that way." He said.
Nine-thousand quantum dots lined end-to-end equals the width of a human hair,and scientists are just now beginning to realize how to use them. The greatest benefit so far seems to be in the field of medicine.
"We can attach a quantum dot, very low concentration, light up the drug and see exactly where they go," Beechem said.
Doctors and scientists can follow the drug right down to a molecule inside a cell. They can also use quantum dots to help find a tumor in the body.
As for Life Technologies' plan to use quantum dots to fight counterfeiting, they don't have any customers yet. But they are convinced their technology will one day make shopping for high end goods an illuminating experience.
"Rolex watches, the bottom of golf clubs... it would be on train tickets, it would be on money, it would be on things you don't think about," Beechem said.