The US Department of Defense is counting on special markings with plant DNA to make military replacement parts secure against counterfeiting. The markings are said to be extremely resilient and applicable to a variety of materials.

The marking developed by the US company Applied DNA Sciences consists of plant-based DNA, which allegedly cannot be counterfeited due to its unique signature. The DNA is applied in solvent form using a drop of epoxide ink that hardens when heated.

In contrast to barcodes or security labels, the DNA markings are tiny and extremely inconspicuous, so they don’t impede the functioning of even the smallest replacement parts. The DNA can also survive extreme conditions, offering reliable protection for various replacement parts from screws to microchips. Additionally integrated protection mechanisms reportedly make the DNA drops even more resistant against counterfeiting.

The markings are to be applied directly during the manufacturing process, so that the end user can track the entire supply chain of the replacement part when he scans it for authentification. The Department of Defense has had some 150,000 microcircuits protected by the plant DNA so far. In the future, the technology should also be used for electrical and electronic replacement parts, as well as for ball bearings, vehicle and motor parts, piping, hoses, or abrasive materials, to name some examples.

Sources: Popular Mechanics, Applied DNA Sciences