A self-destruct is a mechanism which causes a device to destroy itself.
As a counter measure, Skynet installed a self-destruct feature for Terminator CPUs when the CPU ports are open or the chips were removed. This is a tamper-proof fail-safe modification to the CPU housings themselves, coating the chip surface in a layer of phosphorus that reacts as an incendiary when exposed to oxygen, which is contained in air.
The first time the Connors encountered this was when Cameron removed Rosie's chip, only for it to self-destruct upon removal.
Catherine Weaver also encountered the chip self-destruct when she removed the CPU of a Terminator. She discovered that chips were covered with phosphor that inflamed when contacted by air during extraction.
- ↑ Dialogue from the T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and the T-850 in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines