Unique DNA To Foil Parts Counterfeiters

There are 4 million repair parts in the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) system. In 2011 according to the Washington Post, a congressional probe found at least 1,800 counterfeit parts, with an estimated 1,000,000 or more counterfeit parts hiding in the Pentagon's global spare parts system.

Is there any way to mark genuine parts in a way that cannot be counterfeited?

Fighting counterfeit parts is a tough job. The sheer number of parts and the many ways fakes can infiltrate the system is daunting. The only solution is to mark each part so its journey through the system can be tracked and verified from factory to fighter plane. But how do you mark a tiny microchip, or a bolt that holds together an aircraft engine, in a way that's impossible to counterfeit and won't compromise the part's performance?

A new marking system invented by Applied DNA Sciences looks to be part of the answer. The system uses botanical deoxyribonucleic acid—that is, plant DNA—to forensically mark replacement parts. The mark, in the form of DNA suspended in a tiny dot of epoxy ink, is applied pneumatically and heat-cured.

The plant-based DNA provides a unique signature that counterfeiters can't duplicate, and Applied DNA Sciences claims its DNA-based validation system is unbreakable. Sophisticated counterfeiters using DNA sequencers cannot reverse-engineer the mark, as the company claims to have additional levels of security and complexity built into the system.

Philip K. Dick had this answer to counterfeiting as early as 1965. In his novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, he describes the currency that cannot be counterfeited:

Seating himself at the table beside the display case, Mr. Icholtz brought out his wallet and began counting out skins. "Very little publicity will be attached to this at first.

But eventually--" He offered Hnatt the stack of brown, wrinkled, truffle-skins which served as tender in the Sol system: the only molecule, a unique protein amino acid, which could not be duplicated by the Printers, the Biltong life forms employed in place of automated assembly lines by many of Terra's industries.
(Read more about Philip K. Dick's truffle skins)

Via Popular Mechanics.

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