Meet the Benjamins: America’s new $100 bills

Despite the fact that the US government is currently shut down, the Federal Reserve, Department of the Treasury, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing have all managed to coordinate and print off some snazzy new C-notes. The bills started making their way into circulation yesterday, and although they might not appear to be all that radically different from our old bills, these new Benji’s have ton of sophisticated anti-counterfeiting technology going on under the hood.

To be fair, the 100 dollar notes we’ve been using for past seven years aren’t exactly a cakewalk to counterfeit. They’ve got all kinds of watermarks and microprinting going on, but they’ve also been in circulation since 2006, and in that time advanced printing technologies have become far more accessible, so skilled forgers have had plenty of time to learn the ins and outs of making passable fakes. By total value, the US hundred dollar bill is the most counterfeited single denomination on the globe, so it’s easy to see why the Fed opted for a redesign.

Here’s a quick rundown of the technology that makes these new bills so tough to forge:

The Watermarks

The old hundo’s had watermarks, and these new ones are no different. They feature a smaller, less-detailed version of Franklin’s face that’s only visible when held up to a light source. Watermarks like this are extremely difficult to replicate in a convincing fashion thanks to the composition of our currency. The linen/cotton combination makes watermarks appear slightly fuzzy, but in an all-cotton note they tend to look razor-sharp.  

The Microprinting

Much like the 2006 notes, the latest 100 dollar bills utilize microprinting – except they’ve got a lot more of it. Look closely (you might want to snag a magnifying glass if you’ve got bad eyes) and you should be able to spot the”The United States of America” on Franklin’s collar, “USA 100” on the watermark, and “One Hundred USA” along the golden quill.

The Color-Changing Ink

Take a closer look at the big ol’ copper-colored “100” that’s emblazoned on the lower right corner of the new bill. If tilted, it’ll appear to take on a greenish hue. This is one example of the color-changing ink that’s used on the new notes. It contains microscopic flakes of metallic material that reflects different wavelengths of light. This same technique is used to print the golden quill on the back, the tiny 100‘s and USA‘s speckled  on either side, and the golden bell hidden on the inkwell on the front.

The Ribbon

Whereas the previous 100 dollar note featured an internal security strip that was only visible if held up to a light source, the new note sports a big, blue strip sitting unhidden on the bill’s face. Arguably the most advanced and difficult-to-replicate feature, this strip is woven into the bill through a process the Fed wont disclose, and somehow can’t be seen from the rear side of the note. Visible within the strip are three-dimensional images of two icons. 

Looks like your days of printing off stacks with your HP Photosmart 7760 are over. Find out more on why you’ll never make it as a counterfeiter at


From Jay Rock to Saba, these are the 50 best albums of 2018

We've spent the year listening to new albums, digging deep, and culling our master list into 50 favorites. From blockbuster releases to hidden gems, these are the best albums of 2018.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6: Everything you need to know

The Surface Pro 6 is officially here, though it's not as big of a redesign as you might have hoped. With a new coat of black paint and an 8th-gen processor, this is a small update. If you've been eyeing a Surface Pro, you may want to wait…
Product Review

Meet Z6, the breakout star in Nikon's new mirrorless lineup

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.
Emerging Tech

A faithful satellite drifts stunningly close: The best supermoon photos

From a solar eclipse to the Leonids meteor shower, 2017 has been loaded with celestial viewings. This past weekend we witnessed the first and last supermoon of the year and here are the best supermoon photos from around the globe.
Photo Galleries

With its starburst design, the Joshua Tree Residence thwarts sand and spectators

Whitaker Studio expertly transformed a cluster of shipping containers into the Joshua Tree Residence, thus creating a stunning reprieve in the the stark desert landscape of Joshua Tree.

The Morgan EV3 is a concept no longer — production begins in 2018

Morgan has introduced the EV3 concept, its second all-electric vehicle. Slated to go into production in 2018, the 3-Wheeler-based EV3 is powered by a 101-horsepower electric motor that spins the lone rear wheel.

Out of this world rides: The best futuristic cars from science fiction movies

The sci-fi genre has produced some of the most memorable futuristic cars ever made, despite the fact that most will never see a public road. In no particular order, here are the best cars from science fiction movies.
Smart Home

Perched on a cliff, the Hawk’s Nest is a stunning artist retreat in West Virginia

Not wanting to disturb the natural environment of the limestone quarry it sits on top of, Wiedemann Architects uniquely designed the Hawk's Nest in West Virginia to be raised up off the ground and have majestic floor-to-ceiling views.

Survive the apocalypse (or just a week off the grid) with these zombie-proof rides

From hardcore off-roaders to weaponized people-carriers, there are many vehicles out there that can take on the apocalypse. We’ve compiled our favorite zombie-proof rides to get you through the end of the world.

From film to the iPhone, Sony World Photo Awards show the world's diversity

The Sony World Photography Awards has announced the Photographer of the Year, as well as category winners and student and youth prizes. See the images judges selected as the top photos of the year.
Smart Home

12 cool houseboats that will set your imagination adrift

From artificial lakes in eastern Germany to ports in Portland, Oregon, here are 12 houseboats that are as stunning as they are downright extravagant. They might just want to make you give up your landlubbing ways.
Movies & TV

Here’s what a MacGuffin is, and 15 killer examples that made movies memorable

Whether it's a lost soldier, a mysterious briefcase, or the plans to a cosmic weapon, these movie MacGuffins prove that it isn't always the object of an adventure that makes the experience memorable.

Live like a (coddled) astronaut in this lunar lander-inspired tiny home

A tiny home situated on the Columbia River in Washington looks like an Apollo lunar lander, and yet still manages to squeeze in a breakfast nook, bedroom, geodesic skylight, and other features in an open floor plan.