A counterfeit integrated circuit (IC) may contain subtle changes to its circuit configuration. These changes may be observed when imaged using an x-ray; however, the energy from the x-ray can potentially damage the IC. We have investigated a technique to authenticate ICs under photon-limited x-ray imaging. We modeled an x-ray image with lower energy by generating a photon-limited image from a real x-ray image using a weighted photon-counting method. We performed feature extraction on the image using the speeded-up robust features (SURF) algorithm. We then authenticated the IC by comparing the SURF features to a database of SURF features from authentic and counterfeit ICs. Our experimental results with real and counterfeit ICs using an x-ray microscope demonstrate that we can correctly authenticate an IC image captured using orders of magnitude lower energy x-rays. To the best of our knowledge, this Letter is the first one on using a photon-counting x-ray imaging model and relevant algorithms to authenticate ICs to prevent potential damage.
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