Engineers working with DARPA have invented a self-destructing computer chip that could protect top secret data and messages.
It sounds like something straight out of a spy movie, but Xerox PARC engineers have devised an innovative way to protect top-secret messages sent via computer. According to a report from Engadget, a new chip that explodes into thousands of pieces was developed under DARPA’s Vanishing Programmable Resources program.
The chip uses Gorilla Glass instead of metal or plastic, which is ion-exchanged tempered to apply a heavy amount of stress. Glass treated with stress shatters easily, and would completely disable a computer chip made from the material.
The research team that developed the chip displayed their work at DARPA’s “Wait, What?” event, triggering the self-destruction process with a high-powered laser. They filmed the process in slow motion, and you can see the chip explode and continue to shatter into tiny shards in all directions.
The chip could have widespread applications in the transmission of sensitive or classified information, like encryption keys and passwords. Once the recipient accesses the information, they can initiate the self-destruct process and prevent anyone from ever viewing it again.
The engineers also demonstrated that the self-destruct sequence could be initiated by radio signals or a physical switch in addition to the laser. The chip could be triggered remotely, and could have widespread implications for privacy and the protection of sensitive data.