- Researchers have developed a polymer that disappears in an instant when you push a button to trigger an internal mechanism or the sun hits it.
- The polymer has specifically been developed for the Department of Defense.
- Scientists are regularly looking for better ways to hide materials, like invisibility cloaks.
While a polymer that self-destructs might not have uses in the practical world, the concept of a sturdy material that can instantly dissolve itself without a trace is of extreme interest to groups invested in spycraft, like the Department of Defense or the C.I.A. They’ll likely be keeping an eye on the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition, where a team is presenting its progress on such a material.
“This is not the kind of thing that slowly degrades over a year, like the biodegradable plastics that consumers might be familiar with,” says Georgia Tech’s Paul Kohl, Ph.D., whose team developed the material, in a press statement. “This polymer disappears in an instant when you push a button to trigger an internal mechanism or the sun hits it.”
The polymers have specifically been developed for the DoD, which is interested in electronic sensors and delivery vehicles that would bring new meaning to the old camping phrase, “Leave no trace.” If the material was used to build a drone or glider, for example, it could dissolve upon landing, and removing a large physical asset could make a secretive mission that much easier.