This story will self-destruct in five seconds: DARPA begins work on self-destructing electronics

self destructing chip

DARPA, the United States’ military research agency, has announced its intention to fund and develop technology that self-destructs.

For example, DARPA would like a high-resolution camera sensor self-destructs when it receives a certain radio signal from military command, preventing it from being used by the enemy. Other methods of self destruction are also being investigated, though, such as technology that degrades quickly under certain conditions — water, heat, stomach acid, and so on.


The governing idea behind the program, called Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR), is that there’s no point in the US maintaining a technological advantage over the enemy if that technology then falls into their hands. If Iran shoots a drone out of the sky, there could be all sorts of sensitive data and bleeding-edge technology that could then be collected, analyzed, and reverse-engineered. In many cases, it would then be trivial to develop countermeasures that completely nullify the US military’s advantage. The US military reportedly has similar schemes in place for rapidly disposing of documents and hard drives (thermite in an armored box), but this program seems to be more interested in protecting individual components and computers on a smaller scale.

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