Infineon Works on "Watermark" for Chip Cards - Project Aims to Develop Extra Security Features

Mar 27, 2002 | Technology Media

Munich, March 27, 2002 – Infineon Technologies is once more getting involved in the development of innovative protection mechanisms for chip cards. In conjunction with the biotechnology specialist from Erlangen in Germany, named november AG, they are bringing their expertise to bear in a unique project. Experts from the two companies are collaborating on a method of providing a coating for the gold contact surface of the module on chip cards. The chip card module, which houses the security controller beneath, is to be coated using methods developed by november AG, enabling it to have unique identification features.

Special coating with a multitude of faces

The gold module on chip cards, familiar from prepaid phone cards, health insurance cards and banking cards, is the link to reader equipment such as ATMs. Much as the watermark on a banknote, the coating applied by november AG adds another layer of identification information to the security system. This coating provides visual verification that the module and therefore the chip beneath originate from a trustworthy source. This coating technology will be employed primarily for high security controller applications, where confidential information stored on the chip cards is read, modified and stored once more. The coating is also highly resistant to abrasion, so that even after being used thousands of times, the security features do not lose integrity or quality.

Credit cards, charge cards, digital ID papers and electronic travel tickets represent just a small part of the possible areas of application in which an anti-counterfeiting chip housing might be used. The principle behind this chip card module identification feature is based on a special coating, the composition of which remains a closely guarded secret of november AG. Customers may choose to have the “watermark” on the chip modules in different colors that shimmer according to how the light strikes them, or it can even take the form of product and company logos. Selective laser scanning of the structure of the coating permits authentication of the identity of the chip card module.

Expertise and know-how for a manifold world of chip cards

Over the coming months, Infineon Technologies and november AG will first be investigating the applicability of the special coating for current and future generations of chip modules. “Ever since Infineon began its business activities within the chip card industry some 15 years ago, security has been a key issue for chip development. Infineon has acquired wide-ranging security expertise in the chip card field gaining a long-standing market-leading position,” said Dr. Hermann Eul, vice president and general manager of the Security & Chip Card ICs business group at Infineon Technologies. “We are demonstrating particular commitment to research and development of new security mechanisms for this fast-growing market. And this will in turn be reflected in innovative and pioneering products.“ The market launch of the first chip card modules with this security feature on the contact surface is currently scheduled for the start of 2003.

Further information on Infineon’s security and chip card ICs at

About november

november AG Gesellschaft für Molekulare Medizin, Erlangen, is a biotech company listed at the Neuer Markt of the Deutsche Börse (WKN 676290, symbol NBX). The company is focused on Molecular Diagnosis and Molecular Therapy. Applications within the diagnostic field are the detection of infectious diseases, cancer and environment pathogenes by means of electrohybridization (Lab-on-a-Strip) as well as product security and brand protection (IDENT Technology). In the field of Molecular Therapy, november is focused on drug delivery systems (biocapsid technology), especially for vaccination and other approaches in immune therapy. More information is available under

About Infineon

Infineon Technologies AG, Munich, Germany, offers semiconductor and system solutions for applications in the wired and wireless communications markets, for security systems and smartcards, for the automotive and industrial sectors, as well as memory products. With a global presence, Infineon operates in the US from San Jose, CA, in the Asia-Pacific region from Singapore and in Japan from Tokyo. In the fiscal year 2001 (ending September), the company achieved sales of Euro 5.67 billion with about 33,800 employees worldwide. Infineon is listed on the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: IFX). Further information is available at

Copyright © 2002 Infineon Technologies North America Corp. All rights reserved. Infineon and the stylized Infineon Technologies design are registered trademarks and service marks of Infineon Technologies AG. Other trademarks used herein are the property of their respective owners.

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    Infineon works on "watermark" for chip cards Project aims to develop extra security features
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