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DARPA Xerox PARC self-destructing computer chip explodes on command to keep DATA safe

Palo Alto Research Center Incorporated (PARC) a Xerox company, involved in R&D in IT and hardware has under Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA'S) Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) achieved success in developing Self-Destructing computer chips capable of destruction in 10 seconds.

The phenomenon is quite familiar….isn’t it?

In Spy thriller movie “Mission Impossible”, every time Tom Cruise receives a secret message, the last words state - “This Tape message will self-destruct in 5 seconds”...and BOOM!
There’s a sudden explosion, and smoke comes out of the device; containing sensitive information few seconds ago.
This Self-destructing thing has become a reality now.

Now, with DARPA’s initiative this is soon going to become a reality intended mainly for the military personnel. With the idea of- “Protection of data that once existed.”
PARC showcased this breathtaking technology at the “Wait, What?” event of DARPA in St. Louis Thursday, as part of the agency’s VAPR project.

The early model build of the Integrated Circuit (IC) by PARC focuses on mainly two technologies namely:

  • Transient technology
  • DUST (Disintegration Upon Stress-Release Trigger) technology

Sophisticated electronics are increasingly pervasive on the battlefield for a range of applications that include remote sensing and communications. However, it is nearly impossible to track and recover every device, resulting in their unintended accumulation in the environment, potential recovery and use by unauthorized individuals, and compromise of intellectual property and technological advantage.

The Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program seeks electronic systems capable of physically disappearing in a controlled, triggerable manner. These transient electronics should have performance comparable to commercial-off-the-shelf electronics, but with limited device persistence that can be programmed, adjusted in real-time, triggered, and/or be sensitive to the deployment environment.

VAPR aims to enable transient electronics as a deployable technology. To achieve this goal, researchers are pursuing new concepts and capabilities to enable the materials, components, integration and manufacturing that could together realize this new class of electronics.

Transient electronics may enable a number of revolutionary military capabilities including degradable environmental sensors or medical devices for diagnosis, treatment and health monitoring in the field. Large-area distributed networks of sensors that can decompose in the natural environment (eco-resorbable) could provide critical data for a specified duration, but no longer. Alternatively, devices that resorb into the body may aid in continuous health monitoring and treatment in the field.

The data stored in these chips may be encrypted data or a secret message intended for an authenticated person.

The chip designed on a Gorilla Glass substrate is capable of shattering on demand into millions of pieces which cannot be reconstructed. The same glass that is being used as a protective cover for the smartphones.

“We take the glass and we ion-exchange temper it to build in stress,” said Gregory Whiting, a senior scientist at PARC. 
 “What you get is glass that, because it’s heavily stressed, breaks it fragments into tiny little pieces.”

The team of security researchers from PARC in the demonstration in St. Louis showed (See youtube video below) how a laser light activated self-destructing circuit, also the activator could be an RF signal or a physical switch.

“Vanishing electronic devices can be used to address military security, data privacy, and environmental science,” says PARC.

Watch Xerox PARC self-destructing chip explodes on demand Video:


DARPA awarded PARC with $2,128,834 amount of money as the contract award for the research under their VAPR program.

This discovery will prove to be of greater importance as, in military operations a piece of sensitive information is marked i.e. an authorized person shall only be able to access the information.

The self-destructing chips leave no evidence for the data to be restructured.

Now you see it, Now you don't...

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