JDSU's Santa Rosa-based optical business is rolling out new technology that makes it harder for counterfeiters to print bogus currency, the company said Wednesday.

Its "optically variable magnetic pigment" is now being used in more than a dozen countries, a new product that JDSU hopes will drive growth this year.

The Santa Rosa division posted sales of $53.7 million for the second quarter ended Dec. 31, down less than 2 percent from the same period a year ago, the company said Wednesday.

The unit saw weaker demand last quarter for its gesture recognition and payment card security products, JDSU said. But next-generation technology should expand its currency protection business, the company said.

More than 100 countries — including the United States — use JDSU's color-shifting pigments to print their currencies. The technology makes it easy to identify legitimate currency and discourages counterfeiting, the company said.

Its newest printing process features a magnetic component that makes currency even harder for counterfeiters to duplicate, according to Roy Bie, who heads JDSU's Advanced Optical Technologies group.

"Our customers are always asking for more sophistication in the design in order to stay in front of them," Bie told Wall Street investment analysts at a conference late last year.

"There are 14 countries now that have currency redesigns using this new technology, and all of the majors are taking a look at it right now," he said.

Over the next year, JDSU will expand production of the new pigments, the company said. It has about 500 employees in Santa Rosa.

JDSU's color-shifting pigments also are used for decoration in consumer products, including clothing, sporting goods, electronics and autos.

Companywide, JDSU posted sales of $413 million in the second quarter, down 13.4 percent from the same period a year ago. The Milpitas-based company lost $10.2 million last quarter.

But JDSU performed better than analysts expected after flooding in Thailand last year temporarily halted manufacturing of some of its products.

Shares rose almost 6 percent to $13.91 in after-hours trading on the Nasdaq exchange.