A National Secure Electronics Initiative

Author: Eric Breckenfeld


Semiconductor integrated circuits (ICs) will continue to play an increasingly significant role in society as smart phones, internet-of-things (IoT) devices, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, 5G communications, and other vastly interconnected technologies redefine many facets of daily life in the United States. The interconnectedness of these technologies presents novel opportunities adversaries to exploit these systems for financial or strategic gain.

The present geopolitical difficulties between China and the US, coupled with supply chain interruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have made concerns about the robustness of the IC supply chain especially germane. In particular, China’s enormous investment in expanding its production capacity of advanced ICs is of grave concern.

Against this landscape, there is an exciting opportunity for the Biden-Harris Administration to develop a sophisticated American IC security infrastructure by launching a National Secure Electronics Initiative (NSEI). The NSEI sets a goal of achieving levels of security for electronic hardware in defense and commercial sectors at the design, manufacturing, and deployment stages with quantifiable strength comparable to the protections available at the software and data level, such as the AES encryption standards.

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About the Author

Eric Breckenfeld is a Lead Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton where he serves as a consultant for predominantly U.S. defense clients, including DARPA and the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command in the areas of electronic materials/components and hardware supply chain security. Prior to his work at Booz Allen Hamilton, Eric was an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office where he managed the Sustainable Nanomanufacturing and Nanoelectronics for 2020 and Beyond Signature Initiatives. Previously, Eric was a National Research Council Fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory where he performed basic and applied research on electronic materials. Eric received his BS in Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.