Stanford researchers develop "water droplet" computer that manipulates physical matter

Shawn Knight

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Computers and water usually aren’t a good combination but don’t tell that to Manu Prakash, Stanford assistant professor of bioengineering. Along with his students, the researcher has developed a new type of synchronous computer that operates using water.

This new computer isn’t designed to replace the digital / electronic computers we currently use to process information. Instead, Prakash notes, their goal was to build a computer that can precisely control and manipulate physical matter which is exactly what they did.

In layman’s terms, their computer uses a series of small “T” and “I”-shaped iron bars which are strategically arranged between two pieces of glass. Next, they injected individual water drops containing tiny magnetic nanoparticles into the mix. The platform is then encased in a magnetic field which is used to manipulate the direction of the magnetized drops of liquid.

Georgios “Yorgos” Katsikis, the first author on the paper that was published in the current edition of Nature Physics, said they’ve demonstrated that they can make all the universal logic gates used in electronics simply by changing the layout of the iron bars.

Without digging too deep into the technical aspects of it all, the system is exceptionally scalable and has plenty of potential. Prakash said the most immediate application could involve turning the droplet computer into a chemistry and biology lab.

Best yet, Prakash is planning to make a tool for droplet circuits that’ll be available to the public to experiment with.

stanford built kind computer water drops stanford electrons

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Posts: 5,267   +4,525
Best yet, Prakash is planning to make a tool for droplet circuits that’ll be available to the public to experiment with.
That's like saying, Intel is about to release a new set of micro-transistors for public to experiment with. Must be the kind of public that already got transistors for brain.

That fluid used in the experiment has very high thermal + gravity dependency, that's why I do not see it being a viable solution for anything.

Every engineer wants to be an Einstein. But as the great man taught us, gravity is a biatch.
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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,748   +6,376
What you say is true, but let's not forget that great inventions are often the accumulation of many, many smaller components. While we might not have the capacity to understand the benefit today, later on it may end up being an earth shaking discovery that allowed for another dynamic application.