Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE)

Degree Level



Electrical Engineering


Alan Mantooth

Committee Member

Chris Farnell

Second Committee Member

Roy McCann


ANPC Inverter;Cyber-Attacks;Design-For-Trust;Digital Twin


The demand for renewable energy has increased over the last few years, and so has the demand for greater expectations within the energy market. This increasing trend has been accompanied by more significant usage of internet-connected devices (IoT), leading to critical electrical infrastructure being connected to the internet. Implementing internet connectivity with such devices and systems provides benefits such as improving the system's performance, facilitating irregularity and anomaly mitigation, and providing additional situational awareness for enhanced decision-making. However, enhancing the connected system with IoT introduces a drawback – a greater vulnerability to cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks targeting critical infrastructure in the electrical sector have occurred in the United States and Ukraine. These cyber-attacks highlight and expose vulnerabilities that a system inherits when connecting to the internet. These attacks left thousands of customers without electricity for hours until operators could regain control of the electric utility grid. Therefore, to address the vulnerabilities of an internet-connected power electronic device, this work focused on the hardware layer of the system. Implementing a cyber-control system inside the hardware layer can significantly reduce the possibility of an attacker patching malicious controller firmware into a photovoltaic grid-connected inverter, thus mitigating the likelihood that the inverter becomes inactive a cyber-attack scenario. With this mitigation technique, if a cyberattack is successful and an attacker gains control of the network, a cyber-defense technique is in place to mitigate the impact of the cyber-attack. This additional protection layer was developed based on an innovative concept known as Digital Twin (DT). A DT, in this case, replicates an Active-Neutral Point Clamped (ANPC) inverter and was designed using a hardware language known as VHDL (Very High-SpeedIntegrated Circuit Hardware Description Language) and applied to Field-Programmable-GateArray (FPGA). The DT is embedded within the FPGA and contained in a controller board, the UCB (Unified Controller Board), developed by the University of Arkansas electrical engineering team. This UCB also contains two Digital Signal Processors (DSPs) responsible for generating associated signals to control an authentic physical inverter. These DSP signals are received and processed by the FPGA that implements the DT of an ANPC; in other words, it simulates in realtime the expected output of an actual ANPC inverter using the signals from the DSP. When a new firmware is ready to be patched, the DT provides output signals simulating behavior that a real ANPC inverter would generate with the new firmware. The new firmware is tested to check if it meets all the operational requirements established using a Design-For-Trust technique (DFTr). If the new firmware fails in at least one of the DFT tests, it is considered malicious and must be rejected. This work is divided into sections, such as Background, which explains the pieces that were used and the strategy behind this work; Process and Procedure, which explains the methodology that was adopted to prove the reliability and effectiveness of this work; Results and Discussion, where the simulations and results are described and explained; followed by Conclusion and Future work section, which concludes this work and adds possible future projects to continue this work further