Anti-Counterfeiting Technology Uses Radio Waves to Find Fake Drugs


Lund University Researchers from Sweden and the U.K. recently developed an anti-counterfeiting technology that they hope can combat the problem of fake drugs, particularly in Africa, according to

The researchers have created a prototype of the device. It resembles a small suitcase and users place the medication in its packaging in the device, which tells them whether the drugs are authentic or not. It is intended to be used by pharmacists and customs agents.

“There are a number of advantages to this technique. It is not only reliable but also simple and cheap, which is a prerequisite if it is to be successfully put into use in developing countries”, comments Andreas Jakobsson, Professor in Mathematical Statistics at Lund University and one of the researchers on the project.

The device operates using a technique known as nuclear magnetic resonance. The substance is exposed to radio waves, which briefly alters the spin of atom nuclei. After the radio waves stop, the substance returns to normal, emitting a signal that is unique. Most of the time scientists are able to determine what is in a tested material using this technique.

“The signals that are emitted from a chemical substance are incredibly weak,” explains Andreas Jakobsson. “But we have succeeded in developing mathematical algorithms which allow us to capture them.”

The technique was initially developed to detect explosives.