Stanford scientist and his team have created a fully functioning computer that works on magnetized water droplets instead of electrons.
Manu Prakash, who amazed the world last year by building a paper microscope, has now come up with a computer that works by moving water droplets. Prakash is an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University and he has developed the water computer with the help of two of his students. He was born in Meerut, India.What Prakash did was devise a system in which tiny water droplets are trapped in a magnetic field. When the field is rotated or flipped, the droplets move in precise direction and distance. This became the basis of the computer clock, which is an essential component of any computer.Computer clocks are responsible for nearly every modern convenience. Smartphones, DVRs, airplanes, internet – without a clock, none of these could operate without frequent and serious complications. Nearly every computer program requires several simultaneous operations, each conducted in a perfect step-by-step manner. A clock makes sure that these operations start and stop at the same times, thus ensuring that the information synchronizes. (Source: TOI)
Interestingly, the aim of the research is not to build another computer but to control and manipulate matter with greater precision.Indian-American Stanford prof builds a water-droplet based computer (Video) Click To Tweet
“We already have digital computers to process information. Our goal is not to compete with electronic computers or to operate word processors on this,” Prakash said. “Our goal is to build a completely new class of computers that can precisely control and manipulate physical matter. 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.”
The ability to precisely control droplets using fluidic computation could have a number of applications in high-throughput biology and chemistry, and possibly new applications in scalable digital manufacturing.
The results are published in the current edition of Nature Physics.
The best thing is that the team is making their droplet circuits available to public so anyone can work on it and contribute to the emerging science.
Because the system is extremely robust and the team has uncovered universal design rules, Prakash plans to make a design tool for these droplet circuits available to the public. Any group of people can now cobble together the basic logic blocks and make any complex droplet circuit they desire.
“We’re very interested in engaging anybody and everybody who wants to play, to enable everyone to design new circuits based on building blocks we describe in this paper or discover new blocks. Right now, anyone can put these circuits together to form a complex droplet processor with no external control — something that was a very difficult challenge previously,” Prakash said.
“If you look back at big advances in society, computation takes a special place. We are trying to bring the same kind of exponential scale up because of computation we saw in the digital world into the physical world.”