Self-Erasing Chips Can Potentially Help In Detecting Product Tampering

Researchers have devised a way to detect counterfeit products. Specifically, they have created self-erasing chips that may help detect and repel product tampering by showing visible changes.

Self-Erasing Chips For Anti-Counterfeit Systems

Researchers from the University of Michigan have developed self-erasing chips that they feel would play role in detecting product tampering.

According to the details shared, these chips can contain certain messages, such as bar codes, that would disappear upon exposure to light. Hence, if the end-user finds no message on the chip, the user can find out that the product has been previously opened. In this way, the chips would help detect potential product tampering.

The chips basically comprise of a thick layer of semiconductor laid on a thin layer of “beyond graphene” element azobenzene. This element exhibits useful properties similar to graphene, but it surpasses graphene in that it is reactive to light (optoexcitonic).

As described in their research paper,

The reversible structural change between trans and cis isomers in azobenzene (A3) molecules is utilized to strain the overlying tungsten diselenide (WSe2) monolayer, thereby affecting its optical bandgap…
The strain can be rapidly relaxed under exposure to visible light or can be retained up to seven days under dark condition. Thus, by utilizing hyperspectral imaging, a self‐erasable and rewritable optoexcitonic platform is demonstrated that responds to environmental changes (light/temperature) to detect tampering of hardware system.

Future Outlook

Although, the idea of using self-erasing chips sounds futuristic. However, it presently has a limitation of retaining the messages for seven days only.

After seven days, the azobenzene gives up its stored energy. (It’s a process that accelerates upon exposure to heat light and slows down because of cold and darkness.)

This shorter period presently makes the chip unsuitable for large scale applications.

However, further research on enhancing this retention time may make this idea appropriate for anticounterfeit measures.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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