New technology looks deep to identify counterfeit microchips

The Advanced Scanning Optical Microscope works at the nanometer level to help ensure the reliability of integrated circuits.

ASOM anti counterfeit microscope

 

Efforts to prevent counterfeit electronics from finding their way into military systems have ranged from plans to add a tell-tale dielet at the point of manufacturing, to using plant DNA to confirm authenticity, to a Defense Department rule issued in May that puts the onus on supply-chain contractors.

DOD researchers have added one more tool with a technology designed to help engineers perform forensic analysis on microelectronics, including integrated circuits confiscated by law enforcement. Researchers SRI International, working under a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, have delivered an Advanced Scanning Optical Microscope to the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Crane, Indiana, DARPA said in a release.

The microscope, developed as part of the agency’s Integrity and Reliability of Integrated Circuits (IRIS) program, works at the nanometer level, scanning integrated circuits with an extremely narrow infrared laser beam to reveal information such as how a chip was constructed and what function circuits at the transistor level performed, DARPA said.

The microscope is one of many technologies developed under the IRIS program, all aimed at ensuring the reliability of integrated circuits. It adds another important layer of hardware assurance, Kerry Bernstein, DARPA program manager, said in the release. “These tools are optimized to support the mission of ensuring trust in microelectronics in DOD labs such as NSWC Crane.”

The market for integrated circuits, used in computers of all kinds, has ballooned in recent years, DARPA noted. It grew by 20 percent from 2012 to 2013 alone, reaching a worldwide total of $231 billion. But most chip production takes place overseas, outside of any U.S. regulatory arms. The fact that the U.S. military accounts for only 1 percent of the market also limits its ability to influence manufacturing. So DOD’s focus has been on securing the supply chain.

The rule DOD issued in May requires electronics contractors to maintain procedures for detecting and avoiding counterfeits and submit to audits to confirm those processes are in place.

With its growing reliance on high-tech systems, DOD has plenty of motivation to ensure the authenticity of integrated circuits and other electronics parts, which are used in every kind of weapon, surveillance and communications system. And there is plenty of evidence that, left unchecked, counterfeit parts could wind up in military systems.

In May 2012, the Senate Armed Services Committee said that it found more than 1 million suspected counterfeit parts in the supply chain intended for "critical" military systems, including the Air Force’s largest cargo plane, Special Operations helicopters and a Navy surveillance plane. The committee’s report said the vast majority of the parts were manufactured in China.

“Our report outlines how this flood of counterfeit parts, overwhelmingly from China, threatens national security, the safety of our troops and American jobs,” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee’s chairman, said at the time. “It underscores China’s failure to police the blatant market in counterfeit parts – a failure China should rectify.”

Short of China rectifying the failure, programs like IRIS and technologies like the Advanced Scanning Optical Microscope will remain necessary.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.