You are here

Robust Readout of DNA Marking for Electronic Counterfeit Detection


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Chem Bio Defense, Materials, Sensors, Electronics, 

OBJECTIVE: Develop and validate quantitative techniques to read and interpret DNA sequences used for management of supply chain security of electronic components. 

DESCRIPTION: Management of supply chain security to detect counterfeit electronics is a global challenge. According to the Defense Standardization Program Office (DSPO) Journal, counterfeit electronic is defined as “One whose identity and pedigree has been deliberately altered, misrepresented or offered as an authorized product.” [1] There are various ways to confirm the authenticity of electronics such as X-ray microscopy inspection, physical de-layering and imaging and etc. [2] However, these methods either rely on destructive analysis or have limitations in spatial resolution, and therefore do not present viable solutions to effectively mitigate the spread of counterfeit electronics in various sectors of society; specifically military components. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) can provide a form of forensic evidence since it is composed of a sequence of organic bases and is customized by organisms. [3] DNA-signature taggants have been demonstrated as a potential solution to protect electronic components against counterfeiting and diversion. [4] To utilize DNA for supply chain product tracking and anti-counterfeiting, it is important to develop efficient and defect free DNA readers. There is a trade-off that needs to be considered for the design of an effective DNA reader. Specifically, decreasing the amount of DNA constituents used for tagging an electronic part increases the potential for cost savings during authentication. However, more DNA constituent in the taggants allows for utilizing the emerging fast reader technologies; e.g., microarray technique and nanopore sequencing. Meanwhile, there are other developing techniques, electrical conductance measurement that can potentially be developed into DNA readers. [5] Therefore, it is expected that the performer come up with an innovative idea leveraging the already developed methods to efficiently read DNA taggants used to potentially authenticate electronic components. 

PHASE I: Perform a feasibility study to read DNA sequences in a robust manner. Specifically, conduct research on both hardware and software techniques capable of identifying the organic bases within a DNA sequence. The feasibility study is expected to include the following items: 1) Read and interpret signature DNA taggants with a yield of greater than 95% 2) Incorporate artificial intelligent (AI) to predict issues of adulteration 3) Distinguish between defect-free DNA taggants and one with defects included 

PHASE II: Phase II will result in building, testing and delivering a prototype of the method developed in phase I. Prototype demonstration will include numerous testing data on three main samples. The first sample is composed of an electronic part marked by DNA taggants. The second sample is identical to the first sample except for the sequence of DNA used to label the part. And, the third sample is still identical to the first and the second one; however, with no DNA taggants. It is expected that the performer deliver all the mathematical justifications, reasoning, and software coding utilized to develop the prototype. 

PHASE III: Phase III will result in the expansion of the prototype system in Phase II into a tested pre-production system, which entails a technique to read DNA taggants from labeled electronic components to protect the electronic supply chain from counterfeiting. 


1: [1] Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Statistics Survey Results, Department of Commerce (2010).

KEYWORDS: DNA Marking, Counterfeits, Semiconductor Devices, DNA Reading, Supply Chain 

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government