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Experts from Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) in South Korea have performed an operation to create a digital security system that is environment friendly. They managed to use natural silk fibers coming from domesticated silkworms in order to generate security keys.

The first natural physical unclonable function (PUF) […] takes advantage of the diffraction of light through natural microholes in native silk to create a secure and unique digital key for future security solutions.


What Are PUFs?

According to the HackerNews publication, the so-called PUFs researchers mentioned, also known under the extended name of physical unclonable functions, point out basically to those devices that during the manufacturing process use microscopic differences and inherent randomness with the purpose of unique identifier generation. These elements, that could be, for instance, cryptographic keys, will be created in accordance with a range of inputs or conditions.

PUFs is a term that indicates one-way functions that are non-algorithmic. These come from uncopiable elements and are used to produce identifiers that cannot be broken. This fact will further enable a powerful authentication.

As the years have passed, PUFs have been known elements related to the provision of “silicon fingerprints” for smart cards. This method allows cardholders to be determined taking into account a scheme that features challenge-response authentication.

What Does the New Method Bring?

The method used by the above-mentioned researchers is based on the usage of natural silk fibers that are created by silkworms in order to produce PUF-based tags. These tags will be further employed for the invention of a PUF module. In other words, a light beam undergoes diffraction if an obstacle is hit. In our case, the obstacle would be the silk fiber.

In a paper featured in Nature Communications, the researchers also explained further that

In addition, the nanofibrillar structures in each microfiber significantly improves the light intensity contrast between the background and focal spots owing to the strong scattering. (…) These novel optical features could easily implement the module of a lens-free optical PUF by placing a silk ID card on the image sensor.

What’s interesting here to mention is that because of the fact that the diffracted light is unique, this means that a unique pattern of light will be derived from it. This will further transform into a digital format that will represent that input further supplied in the system.

The silk fiber-based optical PUF not only has extraordinary optical characteristics but is also low-cost, eco-friendly, without requiring pre-/post-processing for PUF-tag creation. Based on these features, we implement a lens-free, optical, and portable PUF (LOP-PUF) module by optimizing the distance between a silk PUF-tag and an image sensor. This simple apparatus easily forms random light-spot patterns with a high-intensity contrast. Hence, the proposed module significantly reduces the complexity, bulkiness, and cost of module production.


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Andra Andrioaie

Security Enthusiast

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Hi! My name is Andra and I am a passionate writer interested in a variety of topics. I am curious about the cybersecurity world and what I want to achieve through what I write is to keep you curious too!

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