Computer made from liquid crystals would ripple with calculations

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A proposal for a pc constructed utilizing liquid crystals – much like these present in LCD TVs – would use the orientation of the molecules to retailer information. Calculations would appear to be ripples via the liquid



Physics



19 August 2022

Liquid crystal droplet underneath a microscope

Karl Gaff/Science Picture Library

Ripples and imperfections in liquid crystals like these present in TVs might be used to construct a brand new sort of laptop.

Žiga Kos on the College of Ljubljana in Slovenia and Jörn Dunkel on the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how have proposed alternate options for the essential constructing blocks of computer systems utilizing so-called nematic liquid crystals fairly than electronics.

Liquid crystals include rod-shaped molecules that slosh round like a fluid, and in these which might be nematic the molecules are largely parallel to one another. For gadgets like TV screens, the odd molecule that faces the flawed approach must be eliminated in the course of the manufacturing course of, however these defects are key for constructing a liquid crystal laptop, says Kos.

In abnormal computer systems, info is saved as a sequence of bits, digital variations of 1s and 0s. In Kos and Dunkel’s liquid crystal laptop, the data would as a substitute be translated right into a sequence of faulty orientations. A liquid crystal defect might encode a unique worth for each completely different diploma of misalignment with different molecules.

Electrical fields might then be used to govern the molecules to carry out primary calculations, much like how easy circuits referred to as logic gates work in an abnormal laptop. Calculations on the proposed laptop would seem as ripples spreading via the liquid.

Dunkel says that as a result of the liquid crystal laptop wouldn’t use solely 0s and 1s, a few of its computations can be analogous to how quantum computers work, as they’ll concurrently course of extra info than typical computer systems. Particularly, states that aren’t fairly 0s and never fairly 1s that don’t exist in typical computer systems might be used. As liquid crystal know-how is pretty superior, it may not take as lengthy to construct a pc from them because it has to construct quantum computer systems, says Dunkel.

Liquid crystals are acquainted supplies as we spend numerous time taking a look at screens, says Thomas Machon on the College of Bristol within the UK, however the brand new research exhibits that they might be utilized in a really completely different approach – to mimic quantum computer systems.

Kos says different researchers have already efficiently moved and assembled liquid crystal defects into patterns with electrical fields in experiments, so probably the most primary know-how for beginning to construct a nematic liquid crystal laptop already exists.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abp8371

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