The goal of this project is to ensure the security and trustworthiness of cyber-physical microfluidic systems. Microfluidics refers to the interdisciplinary study of fluid manipulation at nanoliter/picoliter volumes. Microfluidic lab-on-chip systems are integrated with sensors and intelligent control, networked for data analysis, and are being commercialized for use in medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring, and basic laboratory research. These systems are cyberphysical in nature and are unfortunately coming of age in an era of rampant cybersecurity issues. Consequently, we anticipate novel security and trust problems that need to be addressed using interdisciplinary expertise in microfluidics, microbiology, hardware design, and cybersecurity.

This project is a collaboration between Duke University and New York University (NYU). It includes four thrusts: 1) understanding the security threats, motivations, attack surfaces, and their consequences for the research landscape, industry, and society, 2) developing security and trust techniques to prevent, detect, and mitigate these threats, 3) experimental validation on the benchtop using biomolecular protocols, and 4) fabrication of printed circuit board (PCB) lab-on-chip prototypes with security primitives. The methods used to realize the research goals will draw upon the multidisciplinary and synergistic expertise of the investigators: microfluidic biochips, threat analysis and countermeasures; bioprotocol synthesis; design automation; experimental microbiology.

This project will foster multi-disciplinary research and education for students in hardware design, CAD, molecular biology, and security. Growth and investment in CPMS, adoption by end users, will be fostered by intellectual property protection. This project has the potential to pave the way for new tech companies. CPMS designed with security in mind will restore trust after the many recent publicized violations of diagnostic and research integrity. The attacks and defense techniques will be submitted to the annual embedded systems security challenge (ESC) held at NYU, where the strengths of the security techniques are being evaluated by student hardware hackers.

All data related to this project will be disseminated through the DukeSpace repository, The papers are all in PDF. Supported formats for data and metadata include JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, AIFF, MP3, DRM-free AAC MPEG, XML and CSV. Source code for testing, input/output files, and documentation are also being released as the project matures. All data and software will be maintained on a Duke website, and this data will be available for 5 years after the project is completed. Similarly, all data and software will be maintained on an NYU website for 5 years after the project is completed.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
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Alexander Jones
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New York University
New York
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