Researchers

Researchers create smallest ‘computer’

MNA Science & Tech Desk: Researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) in the US have come out with the world’s smallest ‘computer’ — a device measuring just 0.3 mm to a side, completely dwarfed by a grain of rice.

Unlike traditional desktops that retain their program and data with or without a power back-up, these new microdevices lose all prior programming and data as soon as they are switched off, news agency reported.

In addition to the RAM and photovoltaics, the new micro-computing device — Michigan Micro Mote — has processors and wireless transmitters and receivers.

As the Motes are too small to have conventional radio antennae, they receive and transmit data with visible light. A base station provides light for power and programming, and it receives the data.

Designed as a precision temperature sensor, the new device converts temperatures into time intervals, defined with electronic pulses. The intervals are measured on-chip against a steady time interval sent by the base station and then converted into a temperature.

As a result, the computer can report temperatures in minuscule regions, such as a cluster of cells, with an error of about 0.1 degree Celsius. The system is very flexible and could be reimagined for a variety of purposes.

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