Engineers at the
In the new computer, moving parts, such as gates, pillars, levers and pistons, would replace components such as transistors to create the switches, logic gates and memory units.
In conventional computers, electrons travel in circuits to perform the calculations that drive the functions of computer chips. A nanomechanical computer would still channel electrons into working circuits, but they would be controlled through the push and pull of millions of microscopic parts instead of solid-state electronic components.
According to Robert Blick, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at
The engineers have already made a working silicon model of the mechanical transistor, and are now trying to integrate other components into a working circuit.
‘We’ve tested these single devices and we’ve shown that a single element works,’ said Blick. ‘The next step is to demonstrate memory. We’re starting with the basics of information engineering.’
Blick said that the nanomechanical computer’s components would probably be made of materials other than silicon, such as ultra-hard diamond film, which can be chemically treated and used in the mass-production of integrated circuits.
The product is expected to be available in four years.