Chinese Science Bulletin, Volume 65 , Issue 2-3 : 108-116(2020) https://doi.org/10.1360/TB-2019-0291

Advances in superlattice cryptography research

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  • ReceivedJul 13, 2019
  • AcceptedSep 23, 2019


One of the widely-known opinions in modern cryptography is that the security of a cryptosystem depends on the security of key. Therefore, key management is the foundation engineering of information security field and its corresponding technical level plays a decisive role in the security and efficiency of entire cryptosystem. Key generation and key distribution are two bottleneck problems of key management which make practical cryptosystem complex and costly to make up for the defects of security. Cryptographic techniques based on physical methods are introduced to generate and distribute secure key which greatly reduce the risk of key management than the traditional techniques based on mathematical methods. Currently, it is a popular research direction to solve cryptographic problems with physical entities such as quantum cryptography, physical unclonable function (PUF), etc. Superlattice cryptography is a brand-new cryptographic technology based on semiconductor superlattice device physics which was developed upon the innovative works of superlattice material electronic characteristics researches and is gaining increasing international influence. Superlattice device taps into the random variation during fabrication processes, therefore the secret is extremely difficult to predict or extract. Moreover, once matched superlattice device pairs are produced, anyone cannot obtain or duplicate, including the original producer with complete set of equipment. Superlattice devices can be used similar to traditional PUF hardware that extract secrets from physical characteristics. It takes full advantages of the internal security of hardware to establish new cryptographic mechanism and application pattern with superlattice PUF devices. On one hand, with the theoretical framework of PUF being introduced to superlattice research, superlattice cryptography becomes a cross-discipline that puts forward a new concept of hardware cryptography and develops PUF theory, and leads to a new research direction for cryptography. On the other hand, superlattice PUF pairs provide a feasible approach to the key management that has long obstructed the information security engineering. This review briefly introduces the origin and development of superlattice cryptography along with current state-of-the-art advances of practical technologies including physical random number generation technology and superlattice key distribution technology. Based on the spontaneous chaotic oscillation of GaAs/Al0.45Ga0.55As semiconductor superlattice, high-quality, efficient and stable physical random number technology was developed, which has laid a good foundation for the subsequent research and development of superlattice cryptography. The superlattice devices were incorporated into the framework of PUF theory in cryptography, and soon afterwards chaos synchronization between unclonable matched superlattice pairs was discovered, based on which a long-haul public-channel secure key distribution was experimentally demonstrated with an unconditional security key distribution protocol with self-authentication capability created. The theoretical significance and application potential of superlattice cryptography have been recognized by cryptographers, microelectronic experts and information security engineers. Despite of academic progress made and innovative technologies exploited in several aspects of superlattice cryptography, our research method and relevant technical route are still quite simple and limited. In the following research, the physical mechanism related to the security properties of superlattice cryptography is urgently needed to be further analyzed, methods to evaluate the security properties of superlattice cryptography devices are going to be systematically developed and a formal proof of the protocol design and security model of the superlattice cryptography will be built. The future works are expected to establish superlattice cryptography as a fundamental information security technology which is fully independently controllable from fundamental theory through device manufacturing technology all the way to application technology in our country.

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致谢 感谢“十三五”国家密码发展基金(MMJJ20180112)

Author information

陈小明 1996年博士毕业于中国科学院软件研究所. 先后在中国科学院数学与系统科学研究院、北京电子技术研究所、北京信息科学技术研究院、北京电子科技学院从事密码理论和应用研究. 2015年获国家技术发明奖, 2011年获政府特殊津贴, 多次获密码科学技术进步奖. 主持过国家高技术研究发展计划、国家重点研发计划课题. 目前研究方向为密码学和计算理论.

徐述 北方信息技术研究所信息保障技术重点实验室研究员、中国科学院苏州纳米技术与纳米仿生研究所客座研究员、国家涉密信息系统密码应用与管理体系建设专家组成员、《密码与信息安全学报》编委、军事科学技术奖励评审委员会成员. 曾荣获总装备部与国防科工委联合颁发的高技术武器装备建设工程荣誉章, 国务院特殊津贴获得者, 第十三届全国政协委员.


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