Fingerprinting paper

Scientists from Newcastle University have learned how to ‘fingerprint’ paper and inexpensively authenticate items such as bank notes, passports and legal documents just by taking a picture of it with a standard camera.

At a glance, one sheet of paper may seem much like all others. Look closer, however, and you'll see that it's made up of a random jumble of tiny interwoven wooden particles and different substances used to stick them together. 

The scientists have taken advantage of that fact, using each jumble as a unique "texture fingerprint".

Under the system, a specific rectangle of paper would be marked out and its fingerprint recorded. People wishing to verify the authenticity of the document, would photograph the rectangle and the system would check if the pattern shot by their camera matches the pattern described in the code.

Although the QR code would be easy enough to photocopy along with the rest of the paper's contents, the wood particle pattern of that copy would no longer be a match. The system has reportedly been tested and verified as 100 percent accurate, and it works even if the paper has been crumpled, soaked or scribbled upon. 

Source: Newcastle University