The worst thing you can ever do is drop your laptop or phone in water. Have you ever seen electronics mixed with water? Researchers at Stanford University have created a new type of computer that is powered by water droplets instead of electrons. The droplets are controlled using a technique called fluidic computation. This new generation of computer is nearly a decade away. The credit for developing this amazing technology goes to Manu Prakash and his team.
By controlling water droplets, they have created a new generation of computers that can manipulate matter. Imagine when you run any computations that not only the data is processed, but the physical matter is algorithmically manipulated as well. The team has made this possible at the mesoscale.
Such a computer which uses fluidic computation could have numerous applications in analyzing biological or chemical samples.
This computer is made like a ‘Pac-Man’ maze with the pieces of metals arranged specifically to flip the magnetic field generated by electromagnetic coils. Tiny water droplets are infused with magnetic nanoparticles. As the magnetic field changes, droplets move in a predetermined direction.
Each rotation of the magnetic field is counted as one cycle, something which every computer does. The presence or absence or absence of a droplet determines 1 and 0 of the binary code in machine language. These interactions are recorded by a camera, allowing the observation of computation in real time.
The system is exceptionally scalable and the team is working on making it much smaller in the future. This will allow a number of operations per time.
This system can be used as a chemical and biological laboratory. Each droplet will carry some chemicals and become its own test tube. This offers unprecedented control over the interactions. So bye-bye test tubes.
In the future, this new type of computer could be used as a tiny factory or a mini 3D printer. The day isn’t far when it could be small enough to swallow and allow custom medications to be produced on a fly and even operate the human body.