Research partnership develops 10 second high-throughput technology to detect counterfeit documents



Advanced analysis of documents

Documents analysed in this study. (a) specimen polycarbonate passport; (b) expired Portuguese national ID card. (i) to (v) correspond to the imaged regions in each document, to be presented throughout this section.


Optical Coherence Tomography

Application of different OCT orthogonal slicing capabilities to a multi-layered identification document. (a) exploded view of an identification document in (b). Sub-diagram (b) also shows the different imaging planes which can be rendered using OCT imaging.



As world leaders in the field of questioned document examination, foster+freeman continue to manufacture document examination workstations found in airports, banks, border crossings and forensic laboratories worldwide.


Fraudulent identity documents are an ever-evolving challenge, particularly at international border crossings. To increase their resilience to counterfeiting, many security features have been added to identification documents over the last decade. However, due to the efficiency of organised crime, the threat of individuals crossing the borders using fraudulent documents remains high.

Now, a research partnership between foster+freeman and the University of Kent has developed a new, a non-destructive, high-throughput analysis technique to counter this threat.

By repurposing a medical technology known as OCT (optical coherence tomography), the research group were able to rapidly distinguish the difference between legitimate and counterfeit travel documents within the short time frame of 10 seconds.

Using OCT it is possible to perform high-resolution sub-surface analysis of polycarbonate layers and to examine the inner surface of a document to reveal evidence of tampering and expose flaws in the security features most commonly found on passports and identity cards.


For further information on this Research Project, please contact Foster+Freeman Chief Technology Officer, Dr Roberto King This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Further Information:

Science and Justice


Access Article in Press

The research has been published by the Science & Justice and is now available, online:



University of Kent


University of Kent Applied Optics Group

The Applied Optics Group (AOG) develops advanced optical systems for imaging and sensing, with applications in medicine, science and industry.