Duroquinone Molecule Nano-Brain
A nano-brain consisting of a hexagonal duroquinone molecule can carry out 16 times more operations than a normal computer transistor. All in a package hundreds of times smaller than the wavelength of visible light. This molecule resembles a hexagonal plate with four cones linked to it, "like a small car," explained researcher Anirban Bandyopadhyay, an artificial intelligence and molecular electronics scientist at the National Institute for Materials Science at Tsukuba in Japan.
(Molecular brains arranged to mimic our nervous sytem)
The duroquinone molecule nano-brain might prove to be the controller for all of the tiny gadget parts that nanotech researchers have created - motors, propellers, switches, elevators, sensors and so on.
Scientists operate the device by tweaking the center duroquinone with electrical pulses from an extremely sharp electrically conductive needle. The molecule and its four cones can shift around in a variety of ways depending on different properties of the pulse — say, the pulse's strength.
Since weak chemical bonds link the center duroquinone with the surrounding 16 duroquinones, each of those shifts too. Imagine, for instance, a spider in the middle of a web made of 16 strands. If the spider moves in one direction, each thread linked to it experiences a slightly different tug from all the others.
In this way, a pulse to the central duroquinone can simultaneously transmit different instructions to each of the surrounding 16 duroquinones. The researchers say this design was inspired by that of brain cells, which can radiate branches out like a tree, with each branch used to communicate with another brain cell.
Ultimately, the nano-brain idea could be implemented in a three-dimensional sphere of 1,024 duroquinones. This means it could perform 1,024 instructions at once, for 4^1024 different outcomes — a number larger than a 1 with 1,000 zeroes after it.
I think that duroquinone molecule nano-brains would be just the thing we need to make science-fictional inventions like lithocules possible:
...each lithocule knew exactly where it was supposed to go and what it was supposed to do. They were tetrahedral building blocks of calcium and carbon, the size of poppyseeds, each equipped with a power source, a brain and a navigational system.
(Read more about lithocules from Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age)
You might also be able to get your Philip K. Dick's autofac up and running, as suggested today by the excellent Frolix_8.
Via LiveScience; thanks to Misja van Laatum for the tip on this story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/12/2008)
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