A chip that will disintegrate on its own upon command is developed by engineers at Xerox PARC. The invention is particularly significant because the chip can protect highly classified military or even personal data. The chip was developed by Xerox PARC and was demonstrated during the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA’s Wait? What? symposium.
The self-destructing chip is made with Gorilla Glass by Corning. It is the same glass used in making electronic monitors or displays of smartphones.
On April 8, 2014, PARC signed an up to $2 million contract with with DARPA to develop and demonstrate its disappearing electronics platform called the Disintegration Upon Stress-Release Trigger or DUST. The platform is aimed at achieving military, ecological and commercial interests.
As explained by PARC, DUST is a technology that allows electronic devices using full-performance microchips to be disintegrated on command, leaving only tiny fragments that are invisible to the human eye. In explaining the capacity of the chip, Sean Garner, PARC researcher and principal investigator on the DUST project, said one has to “imagine being able to cover a large area, like the ocean floor, with billions of tiny sensors to ‘hear’ what is happening within the earth’s crust, and have them quickly disintegrate into, essentially, sand, leaving no trace and not harming the planet or sea life.”
During a remark at DARPA’s Wait? What? event, Gregory Whiting, a senior scientist at PARC, said the company is interested in data security. “We really wanted to come up with a system that was very rapid and compatible with commercial electronics,” Whiting was quoted as saying by the PC World.
“We take the glass and we ion-exchange temper it to build in stress. What you get is glass that, because it’s heavily stressed, breaks it fragments into tiny little pieces,” Whiting further explained.