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Acid-Spewing Bombardier Beetle Inspires Deterrence Mechanism for ATMs

Researchers in Switzerland have incorporated nature into a plan of executing an advantageous method of outwitting criminals, all by utilizing the acid-spewing bombardier beetle in their efforts to fend off ATM thieves.

The shiny bluish-green bombardier beetle almost looks like something out of the Amazing Spiderman movie, and is capable of releasing one of nature’s most aggressive chemical defense systems. Upon encountering a threat, the relentless insect releases a forceful spray that is so powerful it can kill ants in an instant.

bombardier beetle

The bombardier beetle inspired the researchers of ETH Zurich.
Courtesy of Wikipedia

The bombardier beetle houses two different chemicals—hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone—within its abdomen. When the insect feels threatened, a process is launched that infuses the two in a reaction chamber in its abdominal cavity, resulting in the formation of a toxic compound used to vaporize its predators.

“When you see how elegantly nature solves problems, you realize how deadlocked the world of technology often is,” Wendelin Jan Stark, a professor from the ETH Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences said in a news release.

After studying the bombardier beetle’s defense system, Stark and his team were motivated to implement an anti-vandalism mechanism for ATM machines using several layers of plastic. Activation occurs when the plastic’s surface is damaged, where upon a hot foam will promptly discharge when someone tampers with the machines.

“This could be used anywhere you find things that shouldn’t be touched,” said Stark.

Since electricity is not needed to successfully employ Stark’s system, the technology is being viewed as beneficial in terms of a cost effective deterrent.  The mechanism is activated when the plastic layers brimming with chemicals are pressed together, after which, a reaction is created that sprays the acid. The interaction creates a reflex that, in turn, detonates the spray of acid.

The ETH researchers’ findings were published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

Acid-Spewing Bombardier Beetle Inspires Deterrence Mechanism for ATMs


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