Article Type

Research Article

Publication Title

ACM Transactions on Design Automation of Electronic Systems


It is expected that as digital microfluidic biochips (DMFBs) mature, the hardware design flow will begin to resemble the current practice in the semiconductor industry: design teams send chip layouts to third-party foundries for fabrication. These foundries are untrusted and threaten to steal valuable intellectual property (IP). In a DMFB, the IP consists of not only hardware layouts but also of the biochemical assays (bioassays) that are intended to be executed on-chip. DMFB designers therefore must defend these protocols against theft. We propose to “lock” biochemical assays by inserting dummy mix-split operations. We experimentally evaluate the proposed locking mechanism, and show how a high level of protection can be achieved even on bioassays with low complexity. We also demonstrate a new class of attacks that exploit the side-channel information to launch sophisticated attacks on the locked bioassay.



Publication Date



Open Access, Bronze