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An online publication from Purdue University’s College of Engineering.

'ASSURE'ing Ultra-Secure, Ultra-Reliable Trusted Microelectronics

Purdue University, Indiana University, Notre Dame and the Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3) will collaborate on a two-year program to ensure security and reliability upfront.

by Steve Tally

The sophisticated spy-vs.-spy of cybersecurity and cyberattacks has reached the point where even the foundational hardware and materials of electronic devices need to be rethought.

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 the Indiana Innovation Institute (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.

“There are three aspects of computation: hardware, software and the user,” Bermel says. “To fully secure systems, you have to be cognizant of all three. 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.”

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 IN3, says 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.

Initial Research Projects

  • Create secure circuits to prevent IP piracy using novel materials.
  • Quantify risk and develop microbump reliability in logic and memory components.
  • Use advanced imaging to detect potential failures and counterfeit devices.
  • Use models of extreme conditions for devices, and simulations of design improvements.
  • Develop non-destructive tools to measure aging.
  • Instruct students on how to design “system-on-a-chip” devices.
  • Use computer vision and machine learning to detect defective and counterfeit devices.
  • Real-time monitoring to detect malicious or counterfeit hardware components.
  • Plasmonic nanomaterials for physically unclonable, anti-counterfeit nanofingerprints.


  • 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.


Gary Bertoline

“Collaboration between colleges in higher education has never been more important than in today’s era of rapid innovation and change, where the most significant opportunities for innovation often occur at the intersection of disciplines. The complementary fields of study found in the College of Engineering and the Polytechnic Institute provide Purdue with unique opportunities to address critical challenges as we collaborate in the advancement of engineering and technology.”

Gary Bertoline, Purdue Polytechnic Institute Dean