Photonic Paint

UAH-P-12007-Photonic Paint

Docket: UAH-P-12007


Photonic crystals (also known as photonic band-gap materials) have a band gap that forbids propagation of a certain frequency range of light. This property enables one to control light with amazing facility and to produce effects that are impossible with conventional optics. Researchers at UAH developed a new photonic coating technology while experimenting with photonic crystals for optical and digital fingerprinting. The coating solute utilizes meso-scale photonic crystals and is mixed into a visible and infrared transparent polymer that can be applied to almost any surface. This new photonic coating/paint will produce a new method for monitoring sensitive objects close-up or from a distance.

Objects will be coated with the solution as a paint whose primary constituent is transparent in both the visible and the infrared. Small 3D gold photonic crystals mixed into the paint will provide a distinct infrared band-gap signature. Each photonic crystal within the paint will be engineered such that the band-gap is constrained over two or more spectral regions, providing a discrete signal that is not naturally occurring, difficult to fabricate, and not easily recognizable by unwanted eyes with night vision capability. The 3D metallic photonic crystal embedded in the paint consists of a tilted woodpile structure with a modified beam width which can be designed to demonstrate a unique double band-gap at nearly all angles of light.

The paint will consist of visible IR transparent polymer resins. These polymers are commonly used for elastomeric diffractive optics due to their chemical stability, insolubility in water, plasticity, and insensitivity at temperatures between 20 and 80oC. These properties make such polymers ideal in casting molds for a photonic signature.


  • Tag Track and Locate
  • Anti-counterfeit detection for money
  • Commercial tracking applications


  • Cost efficient
  • Distinct infrared signature
  • Counterfeit proof
  • Not easily recognizable


  • State of Development: R&D
  • Licensing Status: Available for licensing
  • Patent Status: Proprietary