Do you ever want to squish your computer to make it work more quickly? Researchers have created a computer that can perform calculations—but only if you squeeze it—if you prefer a more “hands-on” approach. The computer “senses” and “thinks,” translating the deformation into an operation as mechanical stress is applied to it.
According to a report in Nature, scientists have created a mechanical integrated circuit that can compute difficult arithmetic and is comprised of rubber with rubber-silver links. The metamaterial responds to the applied forces in a manner similar to how our skin does. However, the mechanism is the same whether we touch a hot stove or not.
According to lead researcher Professor Ryan Harne of Penn State, “We have developed the first example of an engineered material that can concurrently feel, think, and respond upon mechanical stress without needing additional circuits to analyze such signals.” “The soft polymer material behaves like a brain that can accept digital strings of information and process them to create new sequences of digital information that can govern reactions,” says the author.
The material was utilized to add two numbers together in one of the applications that was evaluated. Squeezing the rubber block left and right picked the numbers. The remainder of the logical operation is then carried out by the material. Electrical signals are created from mechanical information.
There are numerous further uses for the material. It might be modified to send specific light signals in addition to responding to mechanical stimuli. It could also detect and react to radio waves. Autonomous search and rescue systems, infrastructure alerts and repairs, and even bio-hybrid materials that may be used to detect and isolate diseases could all benefit from the usage of a material that “senses” and “thinks.”
According to Harne, “We are currently translating this to a way of’seeing’ to enhance the experience of ‘touching’ we have already established. “Our objective is to create a material that displays autonomous navigation in an environment by recognizing signs, adhering to them, and avoiding harmful mechanical forces like something stepping on it.”
The method demonstrates that you can develop straightforward and scalable computing without using silicon semiconductors.