A Swiss Bombardier-Beetle Defense Against Cash Machine Crooks

The bombardier beetle’s violent method self-defence can now be applied to defending bank cash machines, as explained in this study be researchers at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland:

Self-defending anti-vandalism surfaces based on mechanically triggered mixing of reactants in polymer foils,” Jonas G. Halter, Nicholas H. Cohrs, Nora Hild, Daniela Paunescu, Robert N. Grass and Wendelin Jan Stark (pictured here), Journal of Materials Chemistry A, epub March 17, 2014. (Thanks to May Berenbaum for bringing this to our attention.) The authors report:

Prof_Stark_ETH_Zurich“The bombardier beetle uses attack-triggered mixing of reactants (hydrochinone, hydrogen peroxide H2O2 and enzymes as catalysts) to defend itself against predators. Using multi-layer polymer sheets with H2O2 and catalyst (MnO2) filled compartments we developed a 2D analogous bio-inspired chemical defence mechanism for anti-vandalism applications. The reactants were separated by a brittle layer that ruptures upon mechanical attack, and converts the mechanical energy trigger (usually a few Joules) into a chemical self-defence reaction involving release of steam, and optionally persistent dyes and a DNA-based marker for forensics. These surfaces effectively translate a weak mechanical trigger into an energetic chemical reaction with energy amplification of several orders of magnitude. Since the responsive materials presented here do not depend on electricity, they may provide a cost effective alternative to currently used safety systems in the public domain, automatic teller machines and protection of money transport systems.”

Here are details from the study (and here’s a press release from the university):



BONUS: Video of a bombarder beetle in action:

BONUS (related, though not in a relevantly meaningful way): The strange tale of the strange tale Bomby the Bombardier Beetle