DARPA Has Commissioned IBM To Create Self-Destructing Chips

In true Inspector Gadget, self-destructing message fashion, military research organisation DARPA is keen to develop microchips that can "vanish" on command. Such devices would be useful in technology that risks being lost — and subsequently captured — in the field.

The initiative is part of DARPA's "Vanishing Programmable Resources" or VAPR program, which "seeks electronic systems capable of physically disappearing in a controlled, triggerable manner". Rather than compromising on performance or features, the disintegrating components must be "comparable to commercial-off-the-shelf electronics"... just with the option to flick the kill switch.

According to the US government's business opportunities site, IBM has been awarded $US3.45 million in funding to pursue this branch of research — and it already has a method in mind:

IBM plans is to utilize the property of strained glass substrates to shatter as the driving force to reduce attached CMOS chips into Si and SiO2 powder. A trigger, such as a fuse or a reactive metal layer will be used to initiate shattering, in at least one location, on the glass substrate. An external RF signal will be required for this process to be initiated.

Yeah, I can imagine it being difficult to do much reverse-engineering if all you have to work with is silicon dust.

[DARPA, via Arstechnica]

lamdogjunkie / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0



    Didn't ibm use this in there deskstar line of hdds before selling that part of their business. ;p

    I can just imagineā€¦

    "I accidentally pressed the red button and destroyed millions of dollars of information and technology with explosive chips. FML"

    The things this will be used on will be things like tablets and encripted data links used by forward deployed units. I can't see them being worth millions of dollars. Maybe a few thousand dollars, And if it is accidental, it'll only be a few memory chips and the like that will get destroyed, just enough to make it useless and any data iretrievable. Take the unit back to camp, grab a replacement and send the old one back for refirbishment.

    Because they're just sick - SICK, I tell you - of everyone always finding out when they're spying. Let governments breach privacy and violate the integrity of foreign sovereignty in peace, dammit!


        The US (and Australia) have been copping flak for spying on other nations and their own citizens. But getting caught doing the wrong thing right-thing-that-people-stupidly-think-is-wrong is totally bogus and unfair, they should be allowed to get away with whatever they want. This kind of technology will be able to help them continue their spying operations, but without getting called out for it quite so easily.

          I like how you think its only the US and Australia that spy one people.

            Hah. Don't be silly. I didn't say that. I said the US and Australia have been copping flak for it. :)

            EVERYONE does it, always have, always will, but getting caught is poor form, and it's blown up in the faces of the US most, and locally, we've noticed some blowback with Indonesia.

            Last edited 09/02/14 2:27 am

    Be a good earner for IBM no doubt. Their tech geniuses will come up with the same idea...C4 and bayonetes.. And charge 100's of millions!

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