Before we get into the details, my article topic might seem a little bit odd if you know about the Xerox chip already. But if you don’t, no need for panic, it ain’t no nuclear launch codes or something.
Engineers at Xerox PARC working with DARPA (some facts about DARPA ) have developed a chip that can apparently self-destruct upon command. The chip, allegedly “developed as part of DARPA’s vanishing programmable resources project, could be used to store data such as encryption keys and, on command, shatter into thousands of pieces so small, reconstruction is impossible”. This presents a potentially revolutionary tool for high-security applications and gadgets.
Data security is the ultimate goal of Information Technology security initiatives. Protecting sensitive data is crucial to all academic, medical and business operations to forestall data theft or breach of user privacy. Luckily, the Xerox PARC chip might in the future come in handy in egards to this. The self destructible chip is made partly of Corning’s Gorilla Glass, a tough glass used in making the displays of a wide range of smartphones. The engineering team made some modification to the glass to become tempered under stress. Subsequently, a resistor at the chip’s bottom is heated with a laser, which causes the entire chip to explode into dust. The team says that a laser isn’t necessarily required to cause the chip to explode. Rather, anything from radio signals to a physical switch could be used to remotely initiate the process and cause the chip to turn to dust. The whole process happens in real-time and almost instantly.
While going through all those processes for a chip might seem a little bit off, the pretty little chip represents a huge commercially viable idea. The technology would work pretty much like any other computer chip, holding vital data, an encryption key, or something else of high value. The PARC chip for now is still basically a proof-of-concept and it’s practical application in the real world is still unclear. Nonetheless, it provides an important new tool for top-secret government gencies and perhaps even major companies worried about protection of sensitive and confidential data. Security, after all, is hard to come by in a world where government agencies and hacker groups are actively targeting data. Having a chip that can quickly self-destruct in a pinch could go a long way in securing information.
IBM is working on a similar chip, utising a glass-shattering techniques that can blast silicon chips that power today’s gadgets into an unusable powder in matters of seconds.