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NO.338 08.03.2017

New Breakthrough in Cryptography: Unclonable Physical Function to Protect Intellectual Property

Security for Intellectual Property (IP) will be increasingly more critical in the age of Industry 4.0


The demand for cryptography is also increasing accordingly. The research team led by Professor Wook Park of the Department of Electronics and Radio Engineering developed a new “unclonable security technology” that has garnered much attention from international media. The new technology consists of creating very complex maze patterns that range from 10s to 100s ㎛ in size. With this technology, a series of sophisticated 3D structures with wrinkling can be made with the same directionality but each with unique, individual pattern: a structure cannot be duplicated even with the same material and the same manufacturing process. This inimitability is a key trait for security applications, as the new technology is expected to be widely used as Unclonable Physical Function (UPF). The findings were published on the June 30th issue of Science Advances, a Science publication.It was also introduced in other science magazines including Discover and New Scientist.

 


Directionality may be predicted but not the pattern; getting ready for commercial application
The directionality of the entire 3D structure is determined by a set of grooves laid down at the beginning of fabrication. For instance, if a set of grooves are laid down in a chessboard pattern, a 3D structure will spring out of the same 2D dimension. A unique maze pattern will thus emerge with desired directionality, and each structure will be inimitable as the external force that affects the material during fabrication manifests differently in “mismatched strain.” It is also possible to create on one structure multiple maze patterns with diverse directionalities such as rectangular, hexagonal, or concentric.

 

In 2015, Professor Wook Park first developed the base technology for anti-counterfeiting biomimetic “microfingerprints” that was published on the back cover of Advanced Materials. This technology, however, could only create unpredictable maze pattern with random directionality that limited its commercial marketability. Professor Park explained, “Recognizing and decoding an extremely small, complex maze-pattern structure with random directionality would require a very sophisticated optical detector. If directionality is predictable, it can be decoded with a much simpler device, even if the pattern itself is still very complex.”

 

 

“Even smaller security taggant that can be applied to DNA, food, and others
The research team is developing new detectors for the UPF and working on even smaller UPF to weave security features into DNAs. Professor Park said, “A DNA is about a thousand times smaller in size than the current UPF. We would like to develop a much smaller UPF that can be applied to DNA, food, agricultural products, and others.”

 

Professors Wook Park and Sunghoon Kwon of the Seoul National University led this research, and the work was supported by National Research Foundation of Korea grants funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the Industrial Technology Innovation Program by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

 


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