Ultrabright Fluorescent Polymer Dots with Thermochromic Characteristics for Full-Color Security Marking

Innovative and scalable security technologies are in high demand to deter increasing counterfeiting in modern society. Here, we report the first example of thermochromic–fluorescent ink based on semiconducting polymer dots (Pdots) by taking advantage of the unique optical properties of Pdots. We designed and synthesized two types of thermochromic molecules and then incorporated them with multicolor fluorescent Pdots. The resulting Pdots exhibited colorimetric and fluorescent dual-readout abilities in response to different temperatures which greatly increase the security level for anticounterfeiting applications. These multifunctional Pdots can be easily doped into flexible substrates or prepared as inks. These full-color inks can be further loaded into marker pens for handwriting or cartridges for inkjet printing with excellent signal-to-background contrast. Moreover, complex and delicate full-color images can be printed on security documents or currency for practical use. We anticipate that this first example of thermoresponsive dual-readout methodology based on Pdots will have broad use in advanced security marking technologies.