Bionanoelectronic Devices Could Speed Up Electronics, Processing
Mixing living cells with microscopic electronics may yield a new breed of processing power.
Though computer engineers and scientists have been repeatedly breaking speed barriers with new supercomputers, they still pale in comparison to the information processing power of complex biological systems. IBM’s Roadrunner supercomputer, presently the fastest in the world, has been used to mimic a single part of brain function, the visual cortex, and that’s only a fragment of the information the human body processes at any given moment.
So when researchers look to the future of computing, attempting to mimic bio-functions or combine them with electronics seems like a step in the right direction as far as speed and efficiency are concerned. However, the reality of the situation is not so supportive. Past attempts to merge the two types of systems have not yielded any special results.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists are taking a deeper, or more nanoscopic, look into the idea of cohabitating the living and the inanimate. “With the creation of even smaller nanomaterials that are comparable to the size of biological molecules, we can integrate the systems at an even more localized level,” explains Aleksander Noy, lead LLNL scientist on the bio-electrical project.