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Rapid Non-destructive Detection of Advanced Counterfeit Electronic Material


Counterfeit and subversively modified electronic components represent a substantial threat to Department of Defense (DoD) systems. Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) concluded that “the scope and impact of counterfeits is not known … counterfeit electronic parts can compromise performance and reliability, risk national security, and endanger the safety of military personnel … [and] weaknesses in the testing for electronic parts create vulnerabilities that are exploited by counterfeiters” [1]. The need for advanced tools with widespread applicability towards electronics employed by the DoD is evident. The latest, most sophisticated forms of counterfeiting includes cloned integrated circuits (ICs), overproduced ICs, and tampered ICs created by state-sponsored counterfeiters, with the goal of embedding a back door and/or the capability to remotely disrupt/disable/destroy the system the IC is installed in. Cloned ICs are created when a component is reverse engineered, then produced without the permission of the Original Component Manufacturer (OCM). Currently, extensive electrical testing is required to detect advanced counterfeit components such as cloned ICs. Such testing requires expensive equipment, is time consuming, requires extensive data and cooperation from the OCM, and results vary wildly, depending on interpretation by subject matter experts (SMEs) [2]. Although automated inspection equipment may help identify tampered or cloned components, extensive work has been done to camouflage IC layouts and standard cell functionality, which is capable of defeating automated inspection [3]. A tool is required which can rapidly detect and compare the characteristic EM emissions and reflections of a device, in real time. Such a tool would be able to detect cloned and tampered ICs unless they were made with the exact same material, via the same processes, by the same production equipment. By capturing and comparing the unique signature or “fingerprint” of each component, the most sophisticated counterfeit components would be detected before installation. Electronic components exhibit characteristic electromagnetic responses when powered. These responses are currently being used for quality control, electronic health monitoring, and counterfeit detection.DMEA is seeking a novel tool which electromagnetically scans an electronic device without need for a test fixture and when the device is in both a powered-on and powered-off state. The tool should be able to simultaneously illuminate the device via EM radiation and collect its characteristic responses to illumination to non-destructively determine part authenticity and identify any subversive modifications made to the part. This re-radiation of the incident EM energy is analogous to X-ray fluorescence, in that the resulting radiation is unique to the inspected component. Only devices made of the exact same material, via the same processes, will exhibit identical signatures. Assessment of electronic components must be made in real-time (no post-processing required) and able to be performed by an operator with minimal training. The tool needs to be applicable to a wide range of device types and sizes and be able to detect multiple types of typical and sophisticated counterfeit modalities. The developed tool must be capable of achieving a Pd of >95% with a FAR of <5% to avoid adverse effects on trusted materiel in the DoD supply chain. PHASE I: The goal of Phase I is to establish a design for a proof-of-concept tool capable of remotely scanning an electronic component with free field EM energy to assess its authenticity and proper functionality. Proof-of-concept should be established through laboratory experimentation on representative material. The technique must be environmentally safe and not exceed MIL-STD-461 emissions requirements. Utilization of actual counterfeit, defective, and/or subversively modified components in establishing feasibility is desirable. The hardware and software architecture needed for an integrated tool will be designed. At the conclusion of this phase a feasibility study report will be produced. PHASE II: Phase II will build and test a prototype version of the assessment tool whose architecture was designed under Phase I. Prototype demonstration will include tests performed on relevant electronic devices to determine performance statistics (Pd, FAR). In conjunction with the demonstration, a detailed plan for achieving Manufacturing Readiness Level >6 and for transitioning the tool for insertion within the DoD supply chain will be prepared. PHASE III: Phase III will transition the developed tool for active use by the DoD, academic and private sectors. Commercialization of the concept will occur as SMEs from each sector have identified a critical need for such capabilities. Integration and testing will be coordinated with a DoD organization that handles electronic parts within the supply chain. Additional government and commercial insertion points for the screening tool will be identified.

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