When ATMs (Chemically) Attack

ETH Zurich University scientists borrowed from the bombadier beetle to create a defense system that would release hot nanoparticle-filled foam when the ATM is tampered with.

What's the Latest Development?


Researchers at ETH Zurich University have developed a defense system for ATMs that, unlike similar systems, doesn't require electricity in order to work. Two plastic films containing hydrogen peroxide and manganese dioxide are coated with a layer of clear lacquer and placed on top of each other. If the layer is broken as a result of a forced impact, the chemicals combine, releasing a hot (80° C) foam onto banknotes and rendering them useless. The addition of dye and nanoparticles allow for tracking of the stolen notes.

What's the Big Idea?

The researchers received inspiration for their work from nature: The bombadier beetle keeps within its abdomen two separate chemicals that combine into a spray strong enough to kill or scare off predators. Considering that ATM attacks have increased in recent years, the ETH Zurich solution could prove very useful. Says professor Wendelin Jan Stark: "When you see how elegantly nature solves problems, you realise how deadlocked the world of technology often is...This could be used anywhere you find things that shouldn't be touched."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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