The US military has been rolling out portable electronic devices in droves for soldiers in the field. These gadgets run the gamut from tablets and smartphones to more dedicated devices for specific uses on the battlefield. Having more intelligence in the palm of their hand is a great thing for soldiers, but it also opens the door for those electronic devices to be captured by the enemy potentially revealing data that could be catastrophic in a battle.
To help combat this, DARPA has been working on electronics that can self-destruct on command. This sort of electronic device has been investigated for a long time by DARPA and other tech firms. DARPA is now ready to begin handing out money to companies that can develop this sort of electronic devices.
The DARPA program is called Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program. The goal is to develop electronics that are comparable in performance to off the shelf devices. However, the DARPA gear needs to be destroyable on command. One of the firms that have been awarded money in the VAPR program is PARC. PARC was given $2.1 million for development of a tech called Disintegration Upon Stress-release Trigger known as DUST.
That concept has dummy circuits that crumble into small sand-like particles in a fraction of a second with the application of an electrical trigger. That tech renders the devices useless though no change is discernible to the naked eye. IBM was given $3.5 million for a similar tech that can destroy CMOS chips leaving devices unusable via a radio signal. Another award of $4.7 million was granted for a self-destructing battery called SPECTRE. That tech is for a vanishing silicon/air battery.