IBM were asked by DARPA to create a processor which self-destructs

DARPA asks IBM to build a processor that can self-destruct

News By Lee Mathews Feb. 6, 2014 3:31 pm Explosion

DARPA is looking for a little help from IBM. The task: to create a whole new kind of vaporware — as in hardware that can vaporize itself.

The U.S. Military uses all kinds of embedded systems today, and there are obviously concerns about American technology falling into the wrong hands. No one wants their adversaries reverse-engineering the systems that power things like drones or self-aiming sniper rifles, after all.

Even if a particular UAV, weapon, or communication device has been designed to self-destruct when instructed to do so, there’s still the possibility that important components could survive and be recovered. IBM’s going to figure out how to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s highly unlikely that whatever IBM builds would tear itself apart in a spectacular explosion like the one above, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it did? Instead, they plan to integrate a reactive metal layer or a fuse that will shatter the chip into silicon powder.

IBM has been given $3.5 million to get the ball rolling on the VAPR (Vanishing Programmable Resources) project. Once they’re able to produce a working chip, it could find its way into all kinds of equipment — particularly remote monitoring devices that are widely deployed and not easily tracked or recovered. There’s another scenario that DARPA envisions for self-destructing chips: implantable or swallowable devices. Their project brief uses the term “dissolve,” but it should still be possible to shatter a tiny electronic device the way IBM’s proposing without causing any serious complications to its human host.

Kids eat sand all the time without doing any damage to themselves. This wouldn’t be that different, right?

Leave a Reply