Just how big this will be, well we will see but this is revolutionary in both it’s concept and design. The US based researchers have manufactured a computer that instead of manipulating information they can actually manipulate matter. The water droplets can be used to transport physical material be it biological components or chemical components. The whole thing sounds way ahead of it’s time so keep reading and watch the video to explore how this is done:
Although this new water-based computer could theoretically do everything a normal computer can thanks to its universal logic gates, it’s much slower than the devices we currently use. But the team has far bigger plans in mind for their invention – revolutionising the way we process and manufacture materials.
“We already have digital computers to process information … Our goal is to build a completely new class of computers that can precisely control and manipulate physical matter,” Manu Prakash, lead researcher and bioengineer at Stanford University, said in a press release. “Imagine if when you run a set of computations that not only information is processed but physical matter is algorithmically manipulated as well. We have just made this possible at the mesoscale [10 microns to 1 millimetre].”
“In this work, we finally demonstrate a synchronous, universal droplet logic and control,” he added.
Prakash first came up with the idea for the computer nearly a decade ago, but although it was easy enough to work out how to control water droplets – by infusing them with magnetic nanoparticles and moving them around a maze of iron bars – finding a way to synchronise these movements proved challenging.
In regular computers, this is the role of the clock, which perfectly times every single movement within the system, but Prakash’s team struggled to find something that would do the same thing with water. But then they came up with the idea of a rotating magnetic field.
“Every time the field flips, the polarity of the bars reverses, drawing the magnetised droplets in a new, predetermined direction, like slot cars on a track,” the Stanford press release explains. “Every rotation of the field counts as one clock cycle, like a second hand making a full circle on a clock face, and every drop marches exactly one step forward with each cycle.”