A computer has been created that runs on drops of “magnetic” water

06/11/2015
Naked Science editors

A computer has been created that runs on drops of “magnetic” water

According to scientists and engineers at Stanford University, it took them more than 10 years to work on the project. We will need to look at computers again to understand how this works: a new development is unable to launch a video game or open an e-mail box – but such a computer manipulates microscopic physical objects.

The science
# a computer
#nanotechnology
#ferromagnetism
#ferromagnetic liquid

us-computer-water-droplets
© Wikipedia

“In any computers, bits are represented by completely physical objects,” says one of the authors of the novelty, Professor Manu Prakash, “therefore any information processing is work with matter.” The role of minimal units – bits – is played here by water droplets “pumped” by ferromagnet nanoparticles, turning into a kind of liquid magnets that can be controlled using an electromagnetic field.

The presence or absence of such a ferromagnetic drop in the cell corresponds to the usual unit and zero, and magnetizable strips (in the form of letters T and I) located in a special way on the substrate determine the main directions of motion. This allowed the authors to implement with the help of drops all the key logical operations necessary for any computation.

According to the developers, the goal of the project was not so much to learn how to manipulate information faster – it is clear that electronic systems handle this better – but rather to manipulate physical objects at the micro level faster.


© Kurt Hickman / Stanford University

However, in due time, the “drip computer” can get to data processing. After all, each ferromagnetic drop is not only a physical embodiment of a bit, but also a liquid water “bag” in which, say, various chemicals can be placed. By meeting, merging and reacting in a predetermined way, such droplets will allow many laboratory tests to be carried out faster and easier.

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The science
# a computer
#nanotechnology
#ferromagnetism
#ferromagnetic liquid

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