Licking the virtual envelope

A molecular marker developed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico could be used to determine if a sealed cargo container has been tampered with after being loaded on a ship.

The chemical detection system, patented by Dallas-based Isotag Technologies Inc., creates a permanent fingerprint that can authenticate a product as it moves through the supply chain.

The chemical marker is applied to an electronic seal on a cargo container and can alert officials if the seal has been broken or replaced. The marker will appear only when it is highlighted by a detector with a specific wavelength.

"Our types of seals can allow for verification that something was packaged and sealed," said Neil Ivey, an Isotag spokesman. "It also can be used to match up cargo with passengers, and you can monitor the progress of a package until it gets on a plane."

The technology is already being used commercially. Pharmaceutical companies have used it to authenticate packaging to make sure a sealed prescription has not been tampered with. The marker can be placed on a bottle of pills or on the wrapper of an individual pill.

The marker also can be used to detect if someone takes a bill of lading and substitutes a different one or adds something to the document while a container is in transit, Ivey said.

Isotag technology also has been used to authenticate gasoline and diesel fuels. By adding the marker to the product, officials can determine if the fuels have been watered down.

Featured

  • Comment
    Diverse Workforce (Image: Shutterstock)

    Who cares if you wear a hoodie or a suit? It’s the mission that matters most

    Responding to Steve Kelman's recent blog post, Alan Thomas shares the inside story on 18F's evolution.

  • Cybersecurity
    enterprise security (Omelchenko/Shutterstock.com)

    Does Einstein need a post-SolarWinds makeover?

    A marquee program designed to protect the government against cybersecurity threats is facing new scrutiny in the wake of Solar Winds Orion breach, but analysts say the program was unlikely to have ever stopped the hacking campaign.

Stay Connected