Project looks to create platform for trusted electronics

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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.

While there are a number of technical solutions for trusted electronics, there is still no consistent methodology for trustworthiness that adequately covers the entire value chain. One response, a new research project “Velektronik”, which started in March 2021 and is led by the Fraunhofer IPMS, is working on trusted manufacturing processes of electronic devices.

“Velektronik”, which is being funding by the Federal German government, aims to create a platform that provides 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.

“Technological sovereignty means that, against the backdrop of a highly internationalised value chain, we retain sovereignty over the specific properties of the electronic components in our products,” said Johann Heyszl, head of the Hardware Security department at Fraunhofer AISEC and technical director of the research project. He added, “This sustainably secures the innovation and competitiveness of companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses.”

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 work from that point and will take into account the entire value chain in order to provide concrete solution concepts for trusted electronics.

Within the project, the 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.

The Velektronik platform will be coordinated by the office of the Research Fab Microelectronics Germany, while the overall coordination is carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied and Integrated Safety AISEC.

The results of the project will be used within the platform, for further research projects and, above all, by industry.

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF.