December 4, 2001
While everyone else is looking for batteries that last longer, DARPA hopes to roll out battery technology that can self destruct on command. Earlier this month, the agency awarded a $4.7 million contract to SRI International to develop a transient power supply that can be triggered to vanish.
The contract is part of the DARPA Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program, which hopes to develop electronic components that can decompose when they are no longer needed. The reason: The military is deploying increasingly sophisticated technology in the field of battle, technology that it doesn’t want to fall into the wrong hands. These “vanishing” electronics could self-destruct once the equipment is no longer in use or under the control of U.S. forces.
According to an article in Forbes:
“DARPA is looking for a way to make electronics that last precisely as long as they are needed,” says Alicia Jackson, the VAPR program manager at DARPA. “The breakdown of such devices could be triggered by a signal sent from command or any number of possible environmental conditions, such as temperature.”
This type of “limited device persistence” could be programmed into the devices, triggered remotely, adjusted in real-time, or (as mentioned above) be sensitive to environmental elements.