(Built-In) MIT Research Labs alumni have developed a high-tech countermeasure to supply chain vulnerabilities. DUST Identity has created a system that uses the quantum properties of low-cost, unclonable diamond dust to track and authenticate parts and components. (DUST stands for Diamond Unclonable Security Tag.)
The roots of DUST’s solution lie in quantum computing. The most prominent method of quantum processing uses superconductors — that’s where IBM and Google are focused — but researchers have also found promising results with qubit systems based on nitrogen-vacancy diamonds. Diamonds happen to have very unique physical attributes that are associated with being able to hold qubits for a relatively long time at room temperature.
The same property in diamonds that allows quantum information to be carried — the NV center — can also in effect create a sensor. DUST relies on the same kind of “quantum-engineered” diamonds that quantum computing researchers continue to investigate.
The commercial potential became clearer for DUST Identity co-founder Ophir Gaathon and his colleagues — DUST co-founders Jonathan Hodges and Dirk Englund, who currently leads the university’s Quantum Photonics Laboratory — especially as they developed the software and hardware to “talk” to the diamonds, namely a scanner system that leverages that magnetic resonance, and records and verifies nanodiamond distribution and orientation patterns.
DUST has generated interest and investment in a way that mirrors the landscape described in overviews like the GAO report — an intersection of national security and commercial interest, from both consumer safety and brand value perspectives.DARPA took notice and has invested $2 million in the project. Airbus Ventures and Lockheed Martin Ventures both contributed to a $10 million Series A investment round last year,