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Novel Analog Key Generation Approach As An Alternative to Conventional Binary Keys (pHGen)

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New research paper titled “pHGen: A pH-Based Key Generation Mechanism Using ISFETs” from RWTH Aachen University.

Abstract

“Digital keys are a fundamental component of many hardware- and software-based security mechanisms. However, digital keys are limited to binary values and easily exploitable when stored in standard memories. In this paper, based on emerging technologies, we introduce pHGen, a potential-of-hydrogen (pH)-based key generation mechanism that leverages chemical reactions in the form of a potential change in ion-sensitive field-effect transistors (ISFETs). The threshold voltage of ISFETs is manipulated corresponding to a known pH buffer solution (key) in which the transistors are immersed. To read the chemical information effectively via ISFETs, we designed a readout circuit for stable operation and detection of voltage thresholds. To demonstrate the applicability of the proposed key generation, we utilize pHGen for logic locking — a hardware integrity protection scheme. The proposed key-generation method breaks the limits of binary values and provides the first steps toward the utilization of multi-valued voltage thresholds of ISFETs controlled by chemical information. The pHGen approach is expected to be a turning point for using more sophisticated bio-based analog keys for securing next-generation electronics.”

Find the technical paper here. Published 2022.

Authors: Moussavi, Elmira and Sisejkovic, Dominik and Brings, Fabian and Kizatov, Daniyar and Singh, Animesh and Vu, Xuan Thang and Ingebrandt, Sven and Leupers, Rainer and Pachauri, Vivek and Merchant, Farhad. 10.48550/ARXIV.2202.12085

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