Tiny computers will change our lives. But to build them extremely difficult

Perhaps you watched “Inner space”, a Comedy sci-Fi movie of the 80s about microscopic manned capsule entered in person? Despite the fact that we are still far from the creation of submarines, floating in the human body, technical advances allow us to create computers so tiny that their introduction into living tissue no longer seems a figment of the imagination of science fiction.

 

In fact, it’s been 20 years since British scientist Kevin Warwick for the first time implanted a transponder silicon RFID transmitter in hand to remotely control computers in doors, lighting and other devices. He then took another step by associating a device with its own nervous system to control robotic arms, and received the nickname “Captain Cyborg”.

Although the history of this kind is not something to have every day, the pace of development of microcomputer technologies is not slowed down. The ingenuity of some of the new developments can only wonder.

The smallest computers

For example, earlier this year a team from the University of Michigan led by Professor of electrical and computer engineering David Blau used energy-saving processor designed by Arm, to create the smallest computer in the world.

Device line just 0.3 of a millimeter is ten times smaller than the previous record holder, the computer on solar energy the size of a grain of salt. Because the new device can be integrated temperature sensors and pressure, the team Bleau suggests that, among other things, the computer can be implanted in tumors to determine they are reduced after chemotherapy or not. (Studies show that tumors may have a higher temperature than healthy tissue).

 

Although the development of tiny computers is impressive, there are obstacles to their wide distribution in the health sector and others. One of the biggest problems is the Assembly of batteries, enough to power small devices. If you reduce the size of the battery is drastically reduced and the amount of energy that they accumulate. Batteries needed for the tiny computers that are much smaller than normal small batteries that are used to power other devices, like pacemakers and cochlear implants, and, according to Blow, their capacity can be a thousand times less.

One possible solution is to find ways for frequent recharging of the devices. For example, the infrared light rays can remotely charge the sensors implanted laboratory mice. Scientists also are exploring how to create electricity for tiny computers using a technique known as thermoelectric energy harvesting, but has not yet achieved success in such a small scale. This last method worked, there must be a temperature difference between two surfaces of the device, but the new tiny computers are so small that it is difficult to make any one part is much warmer than the other. Other methods that are still being investigated, include the use of glucose as an energy source.

An effective solution would be to just save a small amount of energy that can be stored in a tiny battery. Blaeu and his team found that can drastically reduce energy consumption, if you will only occasionally Wake up computers to perform the calculations, and then translate them into sleep mode.

In addition to maximizing the time during which tiny computers are asleep, engineers can reduce power consumption by reducing the amount of electricity consumed by computers during wakefulness. Blaeu and his team were able to reduce the power consumption of your computer to an infinitely small 30 PW — 300 trillionth fractions of a watt used by the transistors, reducing the size of some circuits and optimizing their part.

If the engineers manage to overcome the technological obstacles, the tiny computers that can promise us a revolution. For example, CubeWorks, a company created at the initiative of the Michigan Micro Mote (M3) has developed a network of microsensors that can be embedded in objects that we use every day, such as smart home system, wind power, and devices for monitoring glucose levels, and then connect to the “Internet of things”. Working from the sun, these computers are able to collect information about the temperature and pressure of the environment, as well as to obtain a digital image and tracking the movement within a certain area. Once such systems can transform our interactions with everything, from the buildings in which we live, to the clothes we wear.

Yes, we can’t run subs in our bodies, but millimeter the computers appear on the market in the next decade. And they threaten to change our world beyond recognition.

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