Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Awesome! The smallest computer in the world makes a grain of rice look gigantic.

World's tiniest 'computer' makes a grain of rice seem massive

You did not think that scientists would let the boast of IBM's "smallest computer in the world" not be challenged, would it? Indeed, the University of Michigan has produced a temperature-sensitive "computer" that measures 0.04 cubic millimeters, or about one-tenth of the old IBM registry system. It is so small that a grain of rice seems gigantic in comparison, and is so sensitive that its transmission LED could instigate currents in its circuits.

Size limitations forced researchers to be creative in reducing the effect of light. They went from the diodes to the switched capacitors and had to fight against the relative increase in electrical noise that comes from the execution of a device that uses so little energy.

The result is a sensor that can measure changes in extremely small regions, such as a group of cells in your body. Scientists have suspected that tumors are a little hotter than healthy tissue, but so far it has been difficult to verify. The tiny device could verify this claim and, if true, measure the effectiveness of cancer treatments. The team also provides this help to diagnose glaucoma from inside the eye, control biochemical processes and even study small snails.

Why does the air quote around the computer, then? The diminutive size is leading the University to question what a computer is. This has a full processor (based on an ARM Cortex-M0 + design), but loses all data when it loses power, just like the IBM device. That could be a decisive factor for people who expect a computer to be more complete.

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