It's the sort of far-fetched tech you'd expect from the Mission Impossible series, but now self-destructing chips have entered the realms of reality.
Engineers from Xerox PARC have developed a chip that can explode into teensy little pieces as part of DARPA'sVanishing Programmable Resourcesproject
Losing a flash drive full of data, whether it's family snaps or top secret documents, is nothing short of a catastrophe. The thought of someone else stumbling across it is an unnerving one, and that's where this new chip comes in. It can self-destruct on command, making it completely unusable.
The team made the chip out of Corning's Gorillas Glass, but modified it to become tempered glass under extreme stress. It was demoed at DARPA's “Wait, What?” event where a small resistor at the bottom of the chip was used as the self-destruct mechanism. See for yourself below (via IDG.tv)
When heated by a laser, the chip shatters due to all of the stress, but the smaller bits actually keep breaking up after the initial explosion. While government spies will undoubtedly get first dibs on the chip, one day you might be able to send a text to a stolen phone to leave the thief holding nothing but dust.
We're on board, for now anyways. Data theft in the post-Snowden age is an on-going security issue and this futuristic chip may be a step in the right direction.