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Demonstration of the Use of an Encapsulated Perfluorocarbon Vapor Taggant to Track and Detect Currency or Contraband, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
17 pages
The Tracer Detection Technology Corporation was awarded a grant in 1999 from the National Institute of Justice to conduct a demonstration of the use of an encapsulated perfluorocarbon tracer (PFT) taggant with the work being performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Preliminary work on encapsulated PFT taggants had been performed both by Tracer Detection Technology Corporation and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This previous work served as the basis for the work conducted under the demonstration program. The goal was to determine if a delayed release PFT taggant could be used in key law enforcement applications. The demonstration involved the tagging of a source, for example, an amount of currency that might be used in an illegal transaction, and detecting and identifying the source at a different location. Four different perfluorocarbons were used in preliminary experiments in scenarios including postal tracing, document identification, covert currency marking and associated perpetrator tagging, locker storage detection, and portal or chokepoint detection of luggage and containers sealed for shipping. Evaporated PFT taggant was detected in every case. In persistence tests, perfluorocarbon formulations showed a vapor emission half-life of up to 45 minutes for wax crayon markings, to the order of months for tagged ink jet print. The presence of a bulk organic chemical (acetone) did not interfere with the detection of perfluorocarbons. The demonstration concludes perfluorocarbons represent a practical means of tracing goods and individuals that poses no health hazards. Further testing of PFT taggants is recommended, and implications of the demonstration findings and law enforcement applications are discussed. A glossary of terms is appended. 1 figure

Date Published: January 1, 2000