Trust first: “Velektronik” research project creates platform for trusted electronics

Press release / April 16, 2021

In order to use electronic devices securely and reliably, it is important to know where they were manufactured, how they operate and how they are constructed. Although there are currently a number of tech-nical solutions for trusted electronics, there is still no consistent meth-odology for trustworthiness that adequately covers the entire value chain. This is where the research project “Velektronik”, which started in March 2021, comes in. Fraunhofer IPMS is working on trusted manufac-turing processes of electronic devices.

Clean room with pilot production line at Fraunhofer IPMS.

“Velektronik” will establish a platform for trusted electronics for Germany as the central project of the funding guideline for “Trusted Electronics“ of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The aim of the platform is to create secure value chains as an interface between research and industry. Over the next three years, the project partners from the Fraunhofer Society and the Leibniz Association, who together form the Research Fab Factory Microelectronics Germany (FMD), will work with edacentrum on solution concepts for trusted electronics encompassing all areas of electronics development and production.

An important step for technological sovereignty in Germany and Europe

A future-oriented society depends on electronic devices in all relevant technical application domains - whether in critical infrastructures, in Industry 4.0, in the automotive sector or in medical devices. People must be able to rely on these devices in order to create trusted products, systems and infrastructures. “Technological sovereignty means that, against the backdrop of a highly internationalized value chain, we retain sovereignty over the specific properties of the electronic components in our products,” emphasizes Johann Heyszl, head of the Hardware Security department at Fraunhofer AISEC and technical director of the research project, adding: “This sustainably secures the innovation and competitiveness of German companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses.”

Research along the entire value chain

Electronics are considered trusted when they meet all expectations in terms of functionality and at the same time do not leave any backdoors or vulnerabilities open to attackers or to manipulation. The platform which will be developed in the research project will start here and will take into account the entire value chain in order to provide concrete solution concepts for trusted electronics. To this end, the partners will focus on creating a technological overview, on contributing to the necessary standardization and on building up the network of research and industry as well as the ultimate know-how.

Within the project, Fraunhofer IPMS is working on the trusted production of electronic components, so-called “split manufacturing”. This is the approach of having a chip processed and assembled by different foundries. For example, the assembly of the CMOS backplane can be separated from the MEMS production. In terms of trusted electronics, it is important to protect the IP of the individual components, to maintain interfaces and functionalities, and yet to provide security features in hardware and software.

 

About the “Velektronik” project

The Velektronik platform is coordinated by the office of the Research Fab Microelectronics Germany. The overall coordination is carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied and Integrated Safety AISEC. The results of the project can subsequently be used within the platform, for further research projects and, above all, by industry. A direct practical relevance as well as a strong industrial relevance and acceptance are ensured by an industrial advisory board. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF.

 

About Fraunhofer IPMS

The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS stands for applied research and development in the fields of intelligent industrial solutions, medical technology and improved quality of life. Our research focuses on miniaturized sensors and actuators, integrated circuits, wireless and wired data communication, and customized MEMS systems. In the area of trusted electronics, Fraunhofer IPMS deals with trusted manufacturing processes and trusted devices.

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