By Philip Seebauer, Infineon Technologies. 

As globalization becomes more prevalent, so too are the number of passport holders and annual border crossings. Due to their safety-critical character, official identification documents must be developed according to the highest security standards in order to enable a reliable protection against manipulation and fraud. Safety must be guaranteed over an entire lifetime of at least ten years.

With such a scenario, it is increasingly important to improve protection against passport forgery. A developing trend in this field are Polycarbonate datapages with an embedded security controller. The combination of security IC and Polycarbonate datapage has resulted in new possibilities to make passports even more forgery-proof.

The material attributes of Polycarbonate with its multilayer structure, which is indivisibly fused after lamination, enable significantly more security features at multiple levels. The vision panels also offer additional protection.

In comparison to conventional solutions, where the chip is located in the cover, Polycarbonate datapages with embedded security controllers – the so called eDatapages – increase protection significantly.

eDatapage upsides against manipulation

The eDatapage can prevent attempts of fraud. One example of this is Recycling, where several parts of documents are used to create a new one. The implementation of personal data on only one page makes the manipulation of the documents far harder.

Since the security features of the data sheet protect the security controller against manipulation, fraud is nearly impossible. Attempts to destroy the chip itself are easily recognized as mechanical damages, e.g. scratches, will remain on the PC material as evidence of any physical manipulation.

In conjunction with the antenna, which is necessary for every electronical passport, eDatapages result in an effective, easy, safeand convenient solution against counterfeiting. The antenna, for example, can be used as a prevention against counterfeiting and manipulation techniques such as ‘Back Side Milling’. With Back Side Milling, the datapage from the back has to be milled and the passport photograph replaced with another one. Special antenna technologies with embossing or a nanogram coat will make it impossible to cover up such manipulations. Furthermore, the antenna can be used as an additional watermark, which, similar to banknotes, only appears when viewed by transmitted light.

A possible downside of the eDatapage

Due to its module design, standard CL packages, which are used for ePassports, require a multiple layer construction of compensation and crack prevention layers. This layer structure impairs the mechanical robustness on one hand, and on the other hand, only relatively thick data pages are possible.

This leads to rigid and inflexible data pages, which do not meet the flexibility and haptics of traditional passports without polycarbonate data pages. Due to the high costs for polycarbonates, a thicker data page is additionally more expensive than conventional solutions.

An Infineon solution for a more flexible and cost-effective eDatapage

Infineon Technologies has developed a special package solution for highly robust, flexible and thinner government ID documents – Coil on Module.

Infineon has developed its Coil on Module system, based on inductive coupling, to reduce the cost of  eDatapage production. Unlike other methods for incorporating dual interface, antenna connectivity uses electromagnetic waves for connection between the module and the antenna. Similar to the way a contactless card communicates with a terminal, a small antenna on the chip module connects to a coupling area on a standard sizeantenna in the card, using an electromagnetic field within thecard body. This lack of mechanical galvanic connection with no soldered or welded connection ensures that there is no chance of breakage between module and antenna – a huge advantage for an ePassport with a ten-year lifecycle.

While the standard thickness for an inlay is currently 330μm with inductive coupling technology, Infineon now has a roadmap for contactless inlays to 200μm, giving the end document manufacturer much greater flexibility. This is an attractive argument for passport manufacturers, as they look to reduce the thickness of the eDatapage that carries the chip. Current eDatapages are standard 800μm, some are at 650μm, with the goal of reducing the thickness to 600μm and below. With standard CL module technology as it stands today, any further reductionwill require new solutions such as the Coil on Module approach.

The benefits demonstrated by inductive coupling technology, as well as Infineon’s drive towards much leaner chip modules, will go a long way to delivering an advanced ruggedness of the eDatapage with enhanced tamper resistance, as well as a more flexible eDatapage. With these functionalities in place, the ten-yearlifetime requirement of the ePassport becomes more of a reality.

With module solutions that are 50% thinner than standard packages (S-COMCL1-0-1 only 125μm) and do not require crack prevention, innovative antenna techniques like Coil on Module, and unique optical module authentication solutions (Nanogram) from Infineon Technologies offer the right solutions for the highest rugged security for the entire lifetime of the ePassport.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.