Mask Verification System for Space Microelectronics

Award Information
Department of Defense
Air Force
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Azimuth Corporation
4134 Linden Ave, Suite 300, Dayton, OH, 45432
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
John Dickman
Principal Investigator
(937) 256-8571
Business Contact:
Charles Rossi
Program Manager
(937) 256-8571
Research Institution:
As critical military and commercial applications grow more dependent on semiconductor devices fabricated overseas often at untrusted foundries, the United States is becoming vulnerable to attack at a basic level. There are a number of techniques to alter a chip’s design during manufacturing available to agents determined to sabotage or steal critical information using the electronics built into our own systems. While the functions of field programmable gate arrays are to a large extent defined by the user, sections of the device are configured during fabrication and a not fully visible to the user. It is possible for foreign agents or terrorists to alter the design of the chip before or during manufacturing introducing functions that could sabotage the operation of the device or create a backdoor that enables an agent to take control of the operation of the device. Alterations made without the knowledge of the US manufacturer who sells the devices or the user could result in the loss of our aircraft because a smart bomb blew up prematurely or an ATM machine giving thieves passwords and account numbers. Our proposed technique will alert the manufacturer and end user to any alterations in the design. BENEFIT: The ability to verify a trusted reticle or mask sets and to detect alterations to a reticle or mask has numerous applications in both the government and industry. As more and more electronics are manufactured off-shore at untrusted foundries, the United States is placed in greater danger of sabotage and back door control by agents of foreign powers or clever thieves. Semiconductor devices have reached the level of complexity that it is impossible to fully characterize each chip. Even for FPGAs, there are functions fabricated into the chip that are hidden from the manufacturer and end users. Any technique that can alert the user to changes in design greatly increases the trust of the electronics on which we depend for the security of our country. The commercial applications include reducing the risks from foreign or domestic agents to our financial security, vital communication infrastructure, and basic infrastructure of the country.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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