Sophisticated electronics can be made at low cost and are increasingly pervasive throughout the battlefield. Large numbers can be widely proliferated and used for applications such as distributed remote sensing and communications. However, it is nearly impossible to track and recover every device resulting in unintended accumulation in the environment and potential unauthorized use and compromise of intellectual property and technological advantage.
The Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program seeks electronic systems capable of physically disappearing in a controlled, triggerable manner. These transient electronics should have performance comparable to commercial-off-the-shelf electronics, but with limited device persistence that can be programmed, adjusted in real-time, triggered, and/or be sensitive to the deployment environment.
VAPR seeks to enable transient electronics as a deployable technology. To achieve this goal, researchers are pursuing new concepts and capabilities to enable the materials, components, integration, and manufacturing that will realize this new class of electronics.
Transient electronics may enable a number of revolutionary military capabilities including sensors for conventional indoor/outdoor environments, environmental monitoring over large areas, and simplified diagnosis, treatment, and health monitoring in the field. Large-area distributed networks of sensors that can decompose in the natural environment (ecoresorbable) may provide critical data for a specified duration, but no longer. Alternatively, devices that resorb into the body (bioresorbable) may aid in continuous health monitoring and treatment in the field.
VAPR was announced with a broad agency announcement in January 2013.
Microelectronics experts at SRI International are developing embedded computing and other electronic components able to decompose into the surrounding environment when no longer needed, as part of the VAPR program.
SRI International is joining the Honeywell Aerospace Microelectronics & Precision Sensors on the VAPR program, which seeks to develop transient electronics that can physically disappear in a controlled, triggerable manner. DARPA awarded a $4.7 million contract to SRI International last week for the VAPR program. Honeywell won a $2.5 million VAPR contract from DARPA in early December.
Source and top image: DARPA
For more read Energy Harvesting and Storage for Electronic Devices 2014-2024, Forecasts, Technologies, Players