August 28, 2018

Ultra-secure, ultra-reliable trusted microelectronics development project will focus on hardware first

Peter Bermel Purdue University's Peter Bermel, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, will lead a team of researchers from Purdue, Indiana University, and the University of Notre Dame to develop new, ultra-reliable and trusted microelectronics. The project is being funded by a $2.3 million grant from the Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3). (Purdue University photo) Download image

Purdue University, Indiana University, Notre Dame and the Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3) will collaborate on a two-year program to make sure that security and reliability are baked in, and not an afterthought 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. —The sophisticated spy-vs.-spy of cybersecurity and cyberattacks has reached the point where even the foundational hardware and materials of electronic devices needs to be re-thought.

Nowhere is this need for trusted microelectronics more evident—and more crucial—than for use in military and aerospace devices.

To help launch this next-level generation of trusted microelectronics, the Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3) has awarded Purdue a $2.3 million contract to help develop the ASSURE program (Achieving Scientifically Secured User Reassurance in Electronics). Facilitated and managed by IN3, Purdue will collaborate with Indiana University, the University of Notre Dame and the southern Indiana-based Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) on the research and development of new materials, new electronic hardware architectures and novel software approaches.

The ASSURE program is being led by Peter Bermel, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue.

The ASSURE teams will examine known hardware capability gaps in integrated circuits, memory and interconnects; design; materials, fabrication and indicators of imminent failure.

The specific goals of ASSURE are:

• Address vulnerabilities in military electronics.

• Create a national research center of excellence in trusted and reliable military electronics.

• Establish partnerships that will drive research, workforce training, and economic development in Indiana.

"There are three aspects of computation: hardware, software and the user. To fully secure systems, you have to be cognizant of all three," Bermel said. "It's very common to have security discussions around the software and the user, but if we don't have a better strategy for securing cybersystems with the hardware, there will always be limits to what can be achieved."

The initial research projects in the program will include:

• Creating secure circuits to prevent IP piracy using novel materials. Purdue investigators Joerg Appenzeller, Purdue's Barry M. and Patricia L. Epstein Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, scientific director of nanoelectronics, Birck Nanotechnology Center;  Zhihong Chen, professor of electrical and computer engineering; University of Notre Dame investigator X. Sharon Hu, professor of computer science and engineering.

• Quantifiying risk and developing microbump reliability in logic and memory components. Purdue investigators Carol Handwerker, Purdue's Reinhardt Schuhmann Jr. Professor of Materials Engineering; Ganesh Subbarayan, professor of mechanical engineering; and John Blendell, professor of materials engineering.

Using advanced imaging to detect potential failures and counterfeit devices. Purdue investigators: Bermel;  Ali Shakouri, Purdue's Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of Birck Nanotechnology Center, professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Peide "Peter" Ye, Purdue's Richard J. and Mary Jo Schwartz Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Using models of extreme conditions for devices, and simulations of design improvements. Purdue investigators Alejandro Strachan, professor of materials engineering; and Gerhard Klimeck, professor of electrical and computer engineering, director of the Network for Computational Nanotechnology, and the Reilly Director of the Center for Predictive Materials and Devices.

Developing non-destructive tools to measure aging. Purdue investigators: Bermel and Ashraful Alam, Purdue's Jai N. Gupta Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Instruct students on how to design "system-on-a-chip" devices. Purdue investigator: Mark C. Johnson, director of Instructional Laboratories, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Using computer vision and machine learning to detect defective and counterfeit devices. Indiana University investigator David Crandall, associate professor 
School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. 

Real-time monitoring to detect malicious or counterfeit hardware components. Indiana University investigator Martin Swany, associate chair of Intelligent Systems Engineering.

Plasmonic nanomaterials for physically unclonable, anti-counterfeit nanofingerprints. Indiana University investigator Sara Skrabalak, IU's James H. Rudy Professor of Chemistry.

According to IN3, trusted microelectronics, such as those being developed by ASSURE, have applications in virtually all military products and drive a $189 billion commercial industry.

General Gene Renuart USAF (Ret.), who is also the chairman and CEO of the Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3), said IN3's new approach to applied research will help drive solutions to an urgent need in both the U.S. Navy and the private sector.

"Our vast resources and partnerships in government, industry and academia allow us to work on projects, like trusted microelectronics, that push the pace of innovation to achieve faster solutions that impact people's lives," he said. "In addition, these types of projects provide opportunities for regional economic development that offer great promise to benefit the I-69 corridor and Indiana as a whole."

The project will be based in Purdue's interdisciplinary research facility, Discovery Park.

The Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3), formerly the Applied Research Institute, was established in 2015 with the support of a $16.2 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. 

About Purdue University

Purdue University, a top public research institution, offers higher education at its highest proven value. Committed to affordability, the university has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-2013 levels. Committed to student success, Purdue is changing the student experience with greater focus on faculty-student interaction and creative use of technology. Committed to pursuing scientific discoveries and engineered solutions, Purdue has streamlined pathways for faculty and student innovators who have a vision for moving the world forward. 

About Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3):

The Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3) is a nonprofit applied research institute that brings together top leaders from government, military, industry and research universities in collaboration with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane). IN3 will facilitate and manage collaborative research teams from Indiana University, Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame and other Indiana colleges and universities to perform research in participants’ areas of technical expertise. IN3’s focus is on trusted microelectronics technology and security, hypersonics, electro-optics, sensor fusion, data assurance and energy storage. Work conducted through IN3, accelerates technology commercialization that supports economic prosperity across Indiana with a specific focus on Southwest Central Indiana. For more information about the Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3), visit 

Media contact: Steve Tally, 765-494-9809,, @sciencewriter

Sources: Peter Bermel, 765-496-7879, 

IN3 media contact: Raquel Bahamonde, 317-319-6875, 

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