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Using quantum confinement to uniquely identify devices

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
Article number16456
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/11/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Scientific Reports
Volume5
Number of pages8
<mark>State</mark>Published
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Modern technology unintentionally provides resources that enable the trust of everyday interactions to be undermined. Some authentication schemes address this issue using devices that give a unique output in response to a challenge. These signatures are generated by hard-to-predict physical responses derived from structural characteristics, which lend themselves to two different architectures, known as unique objects (UNOs) and physically unclonable functions (PUFs). The classical design of UNOs and PUFs limits their size and, in some cases, their security. Here we show that quantum confinement lends itself to the provision of unique identities at the nanoscale, by using fluctuations in tunnelling measurements through quantum wells in resonant tunnelling diodes (RTDs). This provides an uncomplicated measurement of identity without conventional resource limitations whilst providing robust security. The confined energy levels are highly sensitive to the specific nanostructure within each RTD, resulting in a distinct tunnelling spectrum for every device, as they contain a unique and unpredictable structure that is presently impossible to clone. This new class of authentication device operates with minimal resources in simple electronic structures above room temperature.