Physical Unclonable Function based on a Multi-Mode Optical Waveguide

C. Mesaritakis , M. Akriotou, A. Kapsalis, E. Grivas, C. Chaintoutis, T. Nikas and D. Syvridis

Physical unclonable functions are the physical equivalent of one-way mathematical transformations that, upon external excitation, can generate irreversible responses. Exceeding their mathematical counterparts, their inherent physical complexity renders them resilient to cloning and reverse engineering. When these features are combined with their time-invariant and deterministic operation, the necessity to store the responses (keys) in non-volatile means can be alleviated. This pivotal feature, makes them critical components for a wide range of cryptographic-authentication applications, where sensitive data storage is restricted. In this work, a physical unclonable function based on a single optical waveguide is experimentally and numerically validated. The system’s responses consist of specklelike images that stem from mode-mixing and scattering events of multiple guided transverse modes. The proposed configuration enables the system’s response to be simultaneously governed by multiple physical scrambling mechanisms, thus offering a radical performance enhancement in terms of physical unclonability compared to conventional optical implementations. Additional features like physical reconfigurability, render our scheme suitable for demanding authentication applications.

Citation

C. Mesaritakis, M. Akriotou, A. Kapsalis, E. Grivas, C. Chaintoutis, T. Nikas and D. Syvridis (2018). Physical Unclonable Function based on a Multi-Mode Optical Waveguide. Scientific Reports8(1), 9653. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-28008-6