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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (M.S.E.C.E.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



With the ever-increasing demand for security in embedded systems and wireless sensor networks, we require integrating security primitives for authentication in these devices. One such primitive is known as a Physically Unclonable Function. This entity can be used to provide security at a low cost, as the key or digital signature can be generated by dedicating a small part of the silicon die to these primitives which produces a fingerprint unique to each device. This fingerprint produced by a PUF is called its response. The response of PUFs depends upon the process variation that occurs during the manufacturing process. In embedded systems and especially wireless sensor networks, there is a need to secure the data the collected from the sensors.

To tackle this problem, we propose the use of SRAM-based PUFs to detect the temperature of the system. This is done by taking the PUF response to generate temperature based keys. The key would act as proofs of the temperature of the system. In SRAM PUFs, it is experimentally determined that at varying temperatures there is a shift in the response of the cells from zero to one and vice-versa. This variation can be exploited to generate random but repeatable keys at different temperatures.

To evaluate our approach, we first analyze the key metrics of a PUF, namely, reliability and uniqueness. In order to test the idea of using the PUF as a temperature based key generator, we collect data from a total of ten SRAM chips at fixed temperatures steps. We first calculate the reliability, which is related to bit error rate, an important parameter with respect to error correction, at various temperatures to verify the stability of the responses. We then identify the temperature of the system by using a temperature sensor and then encode the key offset by PUF response at that temperature using BCH codes. This key-temperature pair can then be used to establish secure communication between the nodes. Thus, this scheme helps in establishing secure keys as the generation has an extra variable to produce confusion.

We developed a novel PUF for Xilinx FPGAs and evaluated its quality metrics. It is very compact and has high uniqueness and reliability. We also implement 2 different PUF configurations to allow per-device selection of best PUFs to reduce the area and power required for key-generation. We also evaluate the temperature response of this PUF and show improvement in the response by using per-device selection.


First Advisor

Daniel E Holcomb

Second Advisor

Russell G Tessier

Third Advisor

Jay Taneja