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Xerox Parc's New Chip Will Self Destruct in 10 Seconds

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self-destructing chip

PARC's self-destructing chip will break into thousands of pieces on command, making reconstruction impossible.

Credit: IDG

Engineers at Xerox PARC have developed a chip that can self-destruct upon command, making it potentially suitable for high-security applications. The chip was developed as part of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) vanishing programmable resources project, and designed to store data such as encryption keys. On command, the chip shatters into thousands of tiny pieces.

During a demonstration last week at a DARPA event in St. Louis, the self-destruct circuit was triggered by a photo-diode, which switched on the circuit when a bright light fell on it. For this demonstration the light was provided by a laser, but the trigger could be anything from a mechanical switch to a radio signal.

Xerox engineers based the chip on Gorilla Glass, a Corning-manufactured tough glass used in the displays of numerous smartphones. "We take the glass and we ion-exchange temper it to build in stress," says senior Xerox PARC scientist Gregory Whiting. The destruction of the chip could ensure destruction of an encryption key as part of a routine process or if the key were to fall into the wrong hands.

From IDG News Service
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