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Microelectronics Trust & AssuranceSilicon to systems-level analysis for mission critical platforms


Microelectronics Trust and Assurance

Rising reliance on semiconductors and other hardware components developed and sourced from the commercial sector has introduced new challenges for organizations responsible for national defense and homeland security. How can you ensure that faulty or malicious microelectronic devices and systems do not find their way into hardware that controls our defense weapon systems, infrastructure and other mission-critical systems? 

Silicon to Systems-Level Analysis

Systems integrators require state-of-the-art and novel solutions for microelectronics trust and assurance. Battelle offers a systems engineering approach to the problem by creating and delivering practical, scalable solutions that produce accurate and reliable results. We help our clients:

  • Conceptualize, develop and mature new verification and assurance instrumentation and characterization techniques for microelectronics and electronic subsystems
  • Leverage automation tools to reduce both time and costs associated with verification and assurance
  • Apply vertically integrated solutions to ensure the security and reliability of the system, subsystems and individual components

A Scalable, Science-Based Approach

All modern defense and infrastructure systems are reliant on microelectronic devices and embedded systems for their operation and competitive advantage. If these components are faulty or compromised in the supply chain, either intentionally or accidentally, the risk of mission failure is dramatically increased.

As electronic systems have become more complex and expensive, it is no longer practical to rely only on components manufactured by government accredited facilities. However, introducing commercially sourced chips and embedded systems creates tremendous challenges and risks for systems integrators.

  • A complex, multi-source supply chain makes it difficult to maintain a trusted chain-of-custody.
  • The complexity of modern integrated circuits and electronic systems exceeds the ability of humans to inspect all of their elements and identify flaws or intentional alterations.

Battelle applies vertically integrated, multidisciplinary research methodologies to the problem to close the gap between the increasing complexity of electronic components and the ability to verify and assure system functionality. We are creating new methods to bring together advanced instrumentation, novel algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI), informed by decades of experience developing complex embedded systems security solutions for national security customers.

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A Trusted Partner in Microelectronics Verification

Advantages of Battelle's Microelectronics trust and assurance capabilities

Battelle has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies and organizations to address cyber challenges for more than 20 years. We provide objective, science-based solutions for hardware and microelectronics verification that leverage state-of-the-art instruments, algorithms and methods, along with the deep expertise of our Microelectronics Assurance Team.

Technical Expertise
Our Microelectronics Assurance Team includes Ph.D.-level mathematicians, systems engineers, cybersecurity experts, materials scientists and computer scientists who bring a unique blend of expertise to the challenges of electronics verification and assurance. This domain expertise spans photonics, electron and ion beam microscopy, firmware and embedded system vulnerability research, reverse engineering, cryptography, semiconductor fabrication process, failure analysis and computational physics.

Advanced Laboratory Capabilities
Battelle's microelectronic security lab houses specialized tools and equipment for destructive and nondestructive device and subsystem characterization, including:

  • Barricade™ technology second order effect characterization 
  • Scanning optical (SOM) and electron (SEM) microscopy
  • Focused ion beam (FIB) imaging
  • Preparation and circuit editing
  • Probe station with laser circuit edit
  • Wire-bonding
  • Physical and chemical de-packaging equipment

Additionally, we have developed application-tailored large-area, multispectral automated optical inspection (AOI) capabilities for circuit card and electronic subsystem characterization and assurance.

Algorithms for Automation
We are actively developing unique algorithms and AI programs to automate and scale trust and assurance processes with applications to verification and assurance of electronic systems. Our learning and process automation algorithms go beyond human limitations to address the problem of growing complexity in the electronics market.

Vertically Integrated Verification

Battelle is researching solutions that address risks at every level in the system including microelectronic chips, printed circuit boards, embedded firmware and the integrated system. This vertically integrated approach enables us to qualify and define risk at each level of the design and quantify risk impact to the overall system based on mission capability requirements. In partnership with our clients, our team has developed a microelectronic assurance program that meets and exceeds mission gaps, needs and requirements for testing of an individual component and/or a systems-level diagnostic of physical and functional verification.


Physical Verification

Functional Verification

Is the component or system built correctly for its intended function? Has it been altered or compromised?

  • Destructive analysis
  • Design verification
  • High-resolution optical and electron (SEM) imaging
  • Advanced semiconductor failure analysis technique development, including applied scanning optical microscopy (SOM)

Does the component or system function as intended?

  • Nondestructive detection of counterfeit microelectronics using second order effects
  • Novel active and passive nondestructive technique development
  • Applied mathematics for complexity-tolerance trust and assurance