Trusted Electronics

A strategic research area of Fraunhofer IPMS.

Trusted Electronics

Trusted Electronics

Microelectronics has a key function in our digitized society. Smartphones and other everyday devices, industrial production, autonomous vehicles, communication networks or intelligent medical technology - all of this is inconceivable without microelectronics. To be able to use electronics securely in these important areas of everyday life, they must be reliable and trustworthy.In the production of semiconductor devices, the deliberate introduction of additional functionality in order to gain information about the system and thus circumvent security is a major risk. These opportunities are facilitated by the fact that modern manufacturing of electronic components and systems is now globally distributed across many factories. For example, wafer production, assembly into the packaging and final testing take place in specialized production facilities that often do not belong to a corporate group. The logistics can only be traced via the accompanying documents and serial numbers printed on the housings. This information flow is not sufficient for safety-relevant applications. It can be manipulated at will and thus does not inspire confidence in the components.

"Trusted electronics" is about the sovereignty of manufacturing processes, ensuring that only trustworthy components are used. This means that the production and supply chain must be traceable beyond doubt. The individual components and the structure of the electronic components must be known. Today, this is often not yet possible. In order to find solutions for this, Fraunhofer IPMS is involved in the flagship initiative "Trustworthy Electronics" of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF.

Trustworthy manufacturing, assembly and connection technology

Subject area I

In microelectronics manufacturing, it is common for various processes to be carried out within several globally distributed foundries, which means that traceability is not always a given. One solution to ensure the trustworthiness of electronics nevertheless is so-called "split manufacturing". This is the approach of manufacturing and assembling non-critical basic processes separately from the processing of safety-relevant components. For example, the assembly of the CMOS backplane can be separated from MEMS manufacturing. In terms of trustworthy electronics, the IP of the individual components must be protected, interfaces and functionalities must be maintained, and yet safety features must be provided in hardware and software.

Trustworthy devices

Subject area II

Trustworthy devices are about transmitting safety-critical electrical signals securely, processing or validating them, and finally converting them back. Photonic transmission channels alone, which are also used in quantum communication, for example, offer the advantage of being virtually impossible to manipulate and tap-proof.

Trusted Circuits & Systems

Subject area III

To ensure the trustworthiness of an electronic component, it would be advantageous to have a system that provides all components with a tamper-proof label during production. Until now, this has failed due to the costs and the size of the possible technical solutions. Fraunhofer IPMS has now developed an RFID tag measuring only 1.5 mm², which - integrated into each individual microelectronic chip - can ensure trustworthiness.

 

BMBF research focus

Trustworthiness

In order to shape digitization according to our values and ideas, we need technological sovereignty. We understand this as the right and ability to (co-)shape key technologies