Rapid mapping of digital integrated circuit logic gates via multi-spectral backside imaging


Modern semiconductor integrated circuits are increasingly fabricated at untrusted third party foundries. There now exist myriad security threats of malicious tampering at the hardware level and hence a clear and pressing need for new tools that enable rapid, robust and low-cost validation of circuit layouts. Optical backside imaging offers an attractive platform, but its limited resolution and throughput cannot cope with the nanoscale sizes of modern circuitry and the need to image over a large area. We propose and demonstrate a multi-spectral imaging approach to overcome these obstacles by identifying key circuit elements on the basis of their spectral response. This obviates the need to directly image the nanoscale components that define them, thereby relaxing resolution and spatial sampling requirements by 1 and 2 - 4 orders of magnitude respectively. Our results directly address critical security needs in the integrated circuit supply chain and highlight the potential of spectroscopic techniques to address fundamental resolution obstacles caused by the need to image ever shrinking feature sizes in semiconductor integrated circuits.

In arXic