Alison Smith, 2018 Sammies finalist and Chief Engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, discusses her work developing a way to prevent counterfeit electronics from entering the military supply chain.
Counterfeit military equipment is recognized as a major danger to national security. One method to detect which circuits are legitimate and which are fake is by using nanoparticles. By peppering the electronics with randomly scattered dots, people on the supply chain can easily tell which electronics are authorized. The Navy researcher who developed this verification method is now up for a Samuel J. Heyman Medal for their efforts. “It’s very important for our strategic systems, that is our national security, to make sure that all of our microelectronics are both trusted and assured,” said Alison Smith, Chief Engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. “What we built was a nano-fingerprint. Nanoparticles, if you just simply drop-cast them, they create these random patterns. So, it’s really cool… for us to image a nanoparticle, or for you and I to actually see, we have to use very sophisticated instrumentation like electron microscopy… but we can engineer nanoparticles to scatter very intensely in the visual range.”