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DFG project NANOSEC2: More chance for more secure “fingerprints”

DFG project NANOSEC2: More chance for more secure “fingerprints”

During the production of chips for sensors, minimal, unwanted deviations occur that make the chip unique and can serve as a “fingerprint” for identification. In the Nanosec2 research project, these fingerprints are now to be improved so that they contain more randomness and fewer errors.


Whether it's a thermostat on a radiator, a robot in industry or a measurement device in an airplane: many of our everyday systems are equipped with sensors that work with chips. The chips must be resistant to manipulation, especially if the resulting sensor data is relevant to security. In computer science, the small, production-related deviations of the chips are therefore used to uniquely identify hardware. Physically Unclonable Functions, or PUFs for short, are the name given to these unique codes.

In the DFG project NANOSEC2, researchers at the University of Passau are now investigating how PUFs with improved electronic properties can be produced using the increased surface sensitivity of nanomaterials. Specifically, the team led by Professor Stefan Katzenbeisser, holder of the Chair of Computer Engineering, is investigating how integrated circuits based on nanomaterials can be adapted so that they contain more randomness, making the chips more clearly identifiable. In experiments with carbon nanotube-based field-effect transistors (CNT-FETs), four different types of PUF are created with conducting, semiconducting, modified semiconducting and non-conducting cells. “The idea is that these PUF types are randomly distributed over the surface of the carrier. The random arrangement creates the uniquely assignable fingerprint,” explains Professor Katzenbeisser, who is leading the project together with Professor Elif Bilge Kavun, Professor of Secure Intelligent Systems at the University of Passau. The security  of the fingerprint is now to be further improved by incorporating more randomness.

In a second step, the resistance of PUFs to attacks will be investigated. “Whenever something is attached to the sensor that is very expensive or dangerous for people, this resistance becomes immensely important,” says Dr Tolga Arul, project team member at NANOSEC2. “That's why we're going to take a closer look at the security of these fingerprints: Can they be forged, manipulated or read unintentionally?”

The full name of the research project is “Technology platform for nanomaterial-based PUF circuits with high entropy” and is a collaboration between the University of Passau and Chemnitz University of Technology. It builds on findings from the predecessor project NANOSEC. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation over a period of three years and is part of the DFG priority programme “Nanosecurity”.

Principal Investigator(s) at the University Prof. Dr. Stefan Katzenbeisser (Lehrstuhl für Technische Informatik), Prof. Dr. Elif Bilge Kavun (Juniorprofessur für Sichere Intelligente Systeme)
Project period 01.04.2024 - 31.03.2027
Source of funding
DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft > DFG - Sachbeihilfe
DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft > DFG - Sachbeihilfe

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