ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, has developed a 3D-printable material that changes color to indicate penetration of a tamper-indicating enclosure (TIE). The material is composed of metal ion microspheres.
When the printed material is ruptured, it changes colors and this change alerts users about a breach. Researchers believe this will enhance the capabilities of TIEs. These enclosures are essentially volumetric seals often used in treaty verification regimes to detect access to an item of interest. For example, detecting access in inspectorate-owned equipment enclosures ensures trust in the information stored and processed within.
Current verification approaches rely on time-consuming and subjective visual assessment by an inspector or external equipment. The downside of these active approaches is the strict conditions of the application environment.
Recognizing this limitation, SNL aims to eventually develop “bleeding” materials that allow inspectors to readily locate attempts of TIE penetration using simple visual observation. Such materials would be very robust and prevent adversaries from being able to repair damage to the TIE.