Light up logic: Engineers perform computational logic with light | 1/16/2019 | Staff
gabriella250 (Posted by) Level 3
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For the first time, researchers have performed logic operations with a chemical device using electric fields and ultraviolet light. The device and the pioneering methods open up research possibilities, including low-power, high-performance computer chips.

Semiconductor chips comprise minuscule electronic transistors on beds of silicon. Such devices cannot be made much smaller because quantum effects will begin to predominate. For this reason, engineers are seeking new techniques and materials to perform logic and memory functions.

Student - Keiichi - Yano - Lecturer - Yoshimitsu

Doctoral student Keiichi Yano, lecturer Yoshimitsu Itoh and Professor Takuzo Aida from the Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology at the University of Tokyo have developed a device with functions useful to computation. Conventional computers use electrical charge to represent binary digits (ones and zeroes), but the new device uses electric fields and UV light. These allow for lower power operation and create less heat than conventional chips.

The device is also vastly different from current semiconductor chips, as it is chemical in nature. This property gives rise to its potential usefulness in the future of computation. It's not just the power and heat benefit; this device could also be manufactured cheaply and easily. The device features disk and rod-shaped molecules that self-assemble into spiral staircase-like shapes called columnar liquid crystals (CLC) in the right conditions.

Thing - Device - Chemistry - Something - Something

"One thing I love about creating a device using chemistry is that it's less about 'building' something; instead, it's more akin to 'growing' something," says Itoh. "With delicate precision, we coax our compounds into forming different shapes with different functions. Think of it as programming with chemistry."

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