Research project 5GAIN

5Gain – 5G infrastructures for cellular energy systems using artificial intelligence

PHYSEC is part of the BMWi-fun­ded pro­ject »5Gain – 5G infra­st­ruc­tures for cel­lu­lar ener­gy sys­tems using arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence« with the pur­po­se of deve­lo­ping and asses­sing 5G-based com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on for the dis­tri­bu­t­ed con­trol of cel­lu­lar ener­gy systems.

Due to the expan­si­on of decen­tra­li­zed, rene­wa­ble ener­gy sources as well as con­troll­ab­le loads and sto­rage, the con­trol of ener­gy sys­tems is beco­m­ing incre­a­singly com­plex. One solu­ti­on approach is to divi­de the ener­gy net­work into cells. Wit­hin the­se cells, a decen­tra­li­zed, auto­no­mous load and feed-in manage­ment is car­ri­ed out.

The pro­ject is inten­ded to opti­mi­se the regio­nal extrac­tion and pro­duc­tion beha­viour by means of machi­ne lear­ning methods. In this con­text, the deve­lo­p­ment of bil­ling pro­ce­du­res should be made pos­si­ble through the use of smart contracts.

Based on high requi­re­ments for speed, sca­la­bi­li­ty and relia­bi­li­ty, 5G net­works meet the requi­re­ments of a high­ly mobi­le and ful­ly net­wor­ked socie­ty. The rese­arch pro­ject is the­re­fo­re based on addi­tio­nal ser­vices that are only pos­si­ble with 5G net­works. This inclu­des the data-rate inten­si­ve and auto­ma­ted remo­te main­ten­an­ce of dis­tri­bu­t­ed infra­st­ruc­tures using drones.

PHYSEC is working on the deve­lo­p­ment of a secu­ri­ty archi­tec­tu­re for the secu­re con­nec­tion of net­work infor­ma­ti­on via LPWAN (5G, NB-IoT..). Fur­ther­mo­re, we are respon­si­ble for the cyber-phy­si­cal con­di­ti­on moni­to­ring (inte­gri­ty) of the dis­tri­bu­t­ed infrastructures.

Run­ning time

01.12.2019 — 30.11.2022


  • DEW21
  • ades­so SE
  • urban ENERGY GmbH
  • Stadt Dort­mund
  • Fraun­ho­fer-Gesell­schaft e.V.
  • RWTH Aachen University
  • TU Dort­mund
  • Inno­gy SE

Fun­ded by the Federal Minis­try of Eco­no­mics and Energy.


35th Chaos Communication Congress: PHYSEC presents details on the application of their technology

35th Chaos Communication Congress: PHYSEC presents details on the application of their technology

At the 35th annual conference of the Chaos Computer Club (35C3), the largest international hacker meeting in Europe, Christian Zenger, David Holin and Lars Steinschulte presented PHYSEC’s Enclosure-PUF technology.

This year’s Cha­os Com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on Con­gress attrac­ted more than 16,000 visi­tors to the exhi­bi­ti­on halls in Leip­zig on three days. Under the mot­to “Refres­hing Memo­ries” it was the venue for important deba­tes, lec­tures and work­shops on tech­ni­cal and socio-poli­ti­cal topics.

It was the first time that we gave insights into the PHYSEC tech­no­lo­gy. With Enclo­sure-PUF we pre­sen­ted an inno­va­ti­ve tech­no­lo­gy that makes it pos­si­ble to veri­fy the authen­ti­ci­ty, inte­gri­ty and phy­si­cal sta­te of a phy­si­cal object and to pro­ve cor­re­spon­ding state­ments via digi­tal channels.

In public envi­ron­ments, data extrac­tion from or mani­pu­la­ti­on of com­pu­ter sys­tems is easy to per­form as it requi­res only phy­si­cal access. The aim of the talk was the­re­fo­re to demons­tra­te exem­pla­ry tam­per resis­tance by means of a (very inex­pen­si­ve) self-built test bed in order to pro­tect secret infor­ma­ti­on without attack detec­tion or data era­su­re cir­cuit. The use of elec­tro­ma­gne­tic waves (or their pro­pa­ga­ti­on beha­viour) enab­les the pro­tec­tion of indi­vi­du­al small com­pon­ents to be exten­ded to the ent­i­re peri­phe­ry of a sys­tem. This in turn leads to the detec­tion of mani­pu­la­ti­ons so that sui­ta­ble coun­ter­mea­su­res can be taken in good time. The pro­tec­tion can be used fle­xi­b­ly with regard to size and application.

In 2018, we were awar­ded the Ger­man IT Secu­ri­ty Pri­ze of the Horst Görtz Foun­da­ti­on for the deve­lo­p­ment of the Enclo­sure PUF.

David Holin, Lars Steinschulte and Christian Zenger (f.l.t.r.) from PHYSEC during the talk at the 35C3 in Leipzig

Mis­sed the talk? Click here for the recording.


Novel technology for monitoring nuclear weapons

Novel technology for monitoring nuclear weapons

In the future, this technology might help verify if countries abide by disarmament treaties.

An inter­na­tio­nal IT rese­arch team from Bochum, Prince­ton, and Har­vard has deve­lo­ped a tech­no­lo­gy that faci­li­ta­tes the moni­to­ring of chan­ges in nuclear silos without having to reve­al secret infor­ma­ti­on about the stored wea­pons. In future, it is expec­ted to help veri­fy if coun­tries abi­de by dis­ar­ma­ment trea­ties. The rooms are phy­si­cal­ly moni­to­red with radio waves; a sophisti­ca­ted cryp­to­gra­phic tech­ni­que ensu­res that the pro­cess can­not be manipulated.

As far as rese­ar­chers are con­cer­ned, no chal­len­ge is grea­ter than moni­to­ring nuclear wea­pons: poten­ti­al atta­ckers in this case are ent­i­re nati­ons, rather than small groups of hackers or other cri­mi­nals. The coun­tries have almost unli­mi­ted finan­cial resour­ces at their dis­po­sal and have access to sta­te-of-the-art offen­si­ve technology.

In the inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry pro­ject, mem­bers of the Bochum-based Horst Görtz Insti­tu­te for IT Secu­ri­ty (HGI) col­la­bo­ra­te clo­se­ly with US-Ame­ri­can col­leagues from Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty and Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty. A report about the work has been publis­hed in the sci­ence maga­zi­ne Rubin.

Radio wave map indi­ca­tes changes

In order to iden­ti­fy chan­ges in a nuclear silo, rese­ar­chers deploy elec­tro­ma­gne­tic waves in the radio fre­quen­cy ran­ge. As they are reflec­ted by walls and objects, a uni­que radio wave map of the room can be gene­ra­ted. Every chan­ge – for examp­le if a war­head were to be remo­ved from the sto­rage faci­li­ty – would chan­ge the refle­xi­on pat­tern and could thus be detec­ted. As a result, coun­try A could moni­tor the nuclear silos of coun­try B by reques­ting radio wave maps of the room in regu­lar intervals.

Howe­ver, we must make sure that a coun­try can­not gene­ra­te a radio wave map of a ful­ly sto­cked nuclear silo in advan­ce and then con­ti­nues to send it to coun­try A, even after the wea­pons had long been remo­ved,” exp­lains Dr Dr Ulrich Rühr­mair from HGI. To this end, the rese­ar­chers have inte­gra­ted a so-cal­led chal­len­ge into the sys­tem, i.e. a varia­ti­on in the request for a radio wave map bet­ween the countries.

Pre­ven­ting deception

In the room that has to be moni­to­red, 20 rota­ting mir­rors are instal­led, which can be remo­te­ly adjus­ted. The mir­rors reflect the radio waves, thus chan­ging the refle­xi­on pat­tern in the room, with each mir­ror set­ting crea­ting an indi­vi­du­al pat­tern. Pri­or to sen­ding the request, coun­try A would arran­ge the mir­rors in a cer­tain way. In reply, coun­try B would have to send the radio wave map of the room with the exact same mir­ror arran­ge­ment to coun­try A. This can be done only if coun­try B mea­su­res the room live with radio waves and the cur­rent mir­ror set­ting every time. Pre­vious­ly recor­ded radio wave maps would be useless.

Coun­try A can veri­fy the reply only if the refle­xi­on pat­terns for a num­ber of dif­fe­rent mir­ror set­tings were mea­su­red and saved when the tech­no­lo­gy was first implemented.

Mir­ror arran­ge­ment must not be predictable

The IT secu­ri­ty rese­ar­chers are cur­r­ent­ly tes­ting the sys­tem in a con­tai­ner at Ruhr-Uni­ver­si­tät, using dum­my war­heads and 20 mir­rors. This set­ting enab­les them to crea­te bil­li­ons of sex­til­li­ons dif­fe­rent mir­ror arran­ge­ments. “The chal­len­ge is to make sure that the moni­to­red coun­try doesn’t learn to pre­dict the next mir­ror set­ting over time,” says HGI rese­ar­cher Prof Dr Chris­tof Paar. Were this the case, the coun­try could gene­ra­te the requi­red radio wave map without scan­ning the room anew.

In order to pre­vent this sce­n­a­rio, the IT experts from Bochum deploy an unpre­dic­ta­ble cryp­to­gra­phic pro­to­col to align the mir­rors. “The important thing is to ensu­re that the cor­re­la­ti­on bet­ween the chal­len­ge and the reply can­not be descri­bed by a sys­tem of line­ar equa­ti­on,” says Zen­ger. “This is becau­se such sys­tems are rela­tively easy to figu­re out in mathe­ma­ti­cal terms.” The same app­lies to the phy­sics, i.e. the mir­ror mate­ri­als: their refle­xi­on pro­per­ties shouldn’t be line­ar either.