I'm moving from software implementations to hardware. I need to reverse engineer silicon chips, though the tech that I want to study may have a corrosive chemicals that's supposed to destroy the chip upon touching.

What chemical gets sprayed onto the hardware and which chemical reactions occur?

If there's one substance that causes destruction then there must also be one that prevents it. Does anyone know what this chemical is?

This question in currently going on in the back of my head. Chemistry isn't really my thing; but I know enough to understand the chemical reactions to make various drugs.

I'm not funded by government. This is independent research. The field of cryptography is somewhat of a front line of engineering. If there are no answers to the main question, chemistry resources in the context of silicon and the relating chemicals used in production as well as the securing in the post production will be accepted as the answer.

  • $\begingroup$ The chemical that first comes to mind when talking about destroying silicon is hydrogen fluoride which is used as an etchant in chip manufacture. $\endgroup$
    – Waylander
    Jul 1 '18 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ this brought me here cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/sc99-tamper.pdf much appreciated! $\endgroup$ Jul 1 '18 at 13:05

Hydrogen fluoride protects the chip by converting into hydrofluoric acid upon contact with moisture or human tissue.

I was able to conclude this through this wiki article: Hydrogen Fluoride

Upon contact with moisture, including tissue, hydrogen fluoride immediately converts to hydrofluoric acid, which is highly corrosive and toxic, and requires immediate medical attention upon exposure.[31] Breathing in hydrogen fluoride at high levels or in combination with skin contact can cause death from an irregular heartbeat or from fluid buildup in the lungs

The substance that can neutralize the Ph levels of the hydrofluoric acid is calcium gluconate.

Calgonate 2.5% calcium gluconate gel neutralizes HF

This can be used to help clean up accidental contact with hydrofluoric acid and could possibly be used to prevent any chemical reactions from occurring upon tampering with the chip. The best bet in this situation is to conduct experiments in a dry lab environment and wear gloves. You want to have a fume fan as well as the caluium gluconate in the event of failure.

  • $\begingroup$ One idea is working in a closed environment that has a persistent calcium gluconate fog/gas at all times. $\endgroup$ Jul 2 '18 at 16:07

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