Researchers from Cornell University and Honeywell Aerospace have designed a graphene-enhanced transient electronics technology in which the microchip self-destructs by vaporizing – an action that can be remotely triggered – without releasing harmful byproducts. In addition to transient electronics, the technology might find application in environmental sensors that can be remotely vaporized once they're no longer needed.
A silicon-dioxide microchip is attached to a polycarbonate shell. Microscopic cavities within the shell contain rubidium and sodium bifluoride. When triggered remotely by using radio waves, these chemicals thermally react and decompose the microchip. The radio waves open graphene-on-nitride valves that keep the chemicals sealed in the cavities, allowing the rubidium to oxidize, release heat and vaporize the polycarbonate shell. The sodium bifluoride releases hydrofluoric acid to etch away the electronics.
“Our team has also demonstrated the use of the technology as a scalable micro-power momentum and electricity source, which can deliver high peak powers for robotic actuation,” said the researchers.