Thwarting Bio-IP Theft through Dummy-Valve-Based Obfuscation

Mohammed Shayan, Sukanta Bhattacharjee, Ajymurat Orozaliev, Yong Ak Song, Krishnendu Chakrabarty, Ramesh Karri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Researchers develop bioassays following rigorous experimentation in the lab that involves considerable fiscal and highly-skilled-person-hour investment. Previous work shows that a bioassay implementation can be reverse-engineered by using images or video and control signals of the biochip. Hence, techniques must be devised to protect the intellectual property (IP) rights of the bioassay developer. This study is the first step in this direction and it makes the following contributions: (1) it introduces the use of a dummy valve as a security primitive to obfuscate bioassay implementations; (2) it shows how dummy valves can be used to obscure biochip building blocks such as multiplexers and mixers; (3) it presents design rules and security metrics to design and measure obfuscation. In our preliminary work, we presented the concept through the use of sieve-valve as a dummy-valve. However, sieve-valves are difficult to fabricate. To overcome fabrication complexities, we propose a novel multi-height-valve as an obfuscation primitive. Moreover, we showcase the suitability of multi-height-valve for obfuscation through COMSOL simulations. We demonstrate the practicality of the proposal by fabricating an obfuscated biochip using multi-height valves. We assess the cost-security trade-offs associated with this solution and study the practical implications of dummy-valve based obfuscation on real-life biochips.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9309251
Pages (from-to)2076-2089
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security
StatePublished - 2021


  • Microfluidics
  • intellectual property (IP)
  • reverse engineering
  • security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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