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Market Overview

This robust optical physical unclonable function (PUF) features a novel optical architecture, as well as an integrated form factor, enabling it to achieve true integration and demonstrate stability in a variety of conditions. The global market for cyber security is projected to grow from $113.4 billion in 2019 to $220.2 billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 14.2%. PUF is an emerging security factor for modern systems and devices, acting as a tamper-resistant security method. Unlike other types of PUFs, optical PUFs are especially advantageous owing to the large data capacity and wave dominated nature of photonic devices that further provides enhanced signature complexity and passive operation. Optical PUFs, however, are limited by their sensitivity to initial conditions, temperature, and power. Clemson researchers have developed a highly visible, random, and easily measurable approach to overcome the limitations associated with conventional optical PUFs for a secure, stable integration into modern systems.
Judson Ryckman,
Yingje Lao


Cyber Security, Information & Hardware Security, Data Authentication, Encryption, Identity & Access Management, Cryptographic Mechanisms

Technical Summary:

This technology uses a novel quasi-crystal interferometer (QCI) made with standard single-mode silicon photonic components operating in the near infrared to achieve a robust, integrated silicon physical unclonable function (PUF). The PUF includes a unique integrated photonic form factor and single mode waveguides, rather than multimode waveguides, in primary aspects of the structure. Additionally, the use of a high sensitivity resonator and/or interferometer configuration enables near uniform optical confinement factors with the waveguide core. These features are achieved by using small modulations on a waveguide, rather than air holes or photonic crystals that would yield variable confinement factors. This optical PUF is the first to achieve true integration and demonstrate stability in a variety of environmental and thermal conditions.


• High sensitivity resonator and/or interferometer configuration, enabling near uniform optical confinement factors within the waveguide core
• Probes spatially distributes randomness in highly integrated fashion while providing inherent stability against probing and environmental/thermal conditions
• Feature extraction and correlation analysis achieve computationally efficient means for analyzing optical PUFs

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Technology Overview

State of Development

Proof of Concept


Information and Communication

CURF Reference No.



Dr. Judson Ryckman, Dr. Yingje Lao, Farhhan Bin Tarik, Azadeh Famill

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