Unclonable Identifier

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Full Title or Meme

An Unclonable Identifier is based on some physical measurement that cannot be reproduced else where.


  • Security Tokens have existed since prehistory using some physical stamp with wax or ink to create an impression that could not be duplicated with then existing technology.
  • The most common private Identifier on the web today is a Private Key that is created and kept secret by the owner of the key.
  • Most naturally occurring materials will have some random characterizes which are randomly disbursed throughout the material.


  • To function as an Identifier, the material object needs to have some element of randomness that can be read out of the object producing some repeatable string.
  • It is still necessary to ensure that it is the material object that is being read, and not just a replay of a prior read out.


Lots of attempts have been made to create a physical unclonable function (PUF), some of which are listed here.

  1. Optical - puts scattered defects in an optical media that have been called a "Speckle Pattern".
  2. Coating - puts a pattern on the top of, for example, a silicon chip that can be read by the chip, but is covered by a material which is opaque and part of the pattern's read out capability.
  3. Delay - based on delays in materials, like silicon, that are able to be reliably read out.
  4. SRAM - naturally comes with defects that can be read out. Many patents and products are now available using this to hide a crypto key[1] or create an RFID chip.[2]
  5. Quantum - which are completely unclonable, but hard to maintain over any period of time longer than a second. Application have been found in establishing secure communications channels.
  6. Computer chips with “uncountable” secrets (2021-04-07) Researchers have found a way to use chaos to help develop digital fingerprints for electronic devices that may be unique enough to foil even the most sophisticated hackers.


  1. Intrinsic ID, QuiddiKey reliably reconstructs the same cryptographic key under all environmental circumstances https://www.intrinsic-id.com/products/quiddikey/
  2. R. Colin Johnson, Unclonable 'silicon DNA' secures RFID tags EE Times (2010-03-02) https://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1173168