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Computer Component Could Use as Little Energy as Physically Possible

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A mechanical computer component uses membranes thinner than a human hair.

Nanomechanical computers use tiny vibrations instead of electrons.

Credit: Erick Romero

Researchers at Australia's University of Queensland (UQ) have built a nanomechanical logic gate that uses vibrations for information processing rather than electrons, which could approach the physical lower limit for energy consumption (the Landauer limit).

The gate features an ultra-thin membrane that can vibrate with a low or a high amplitude corresponding to 0 and 1 values, so basic computations are possible by amplifying or dampening them.

A sound wave inputs data into the gate, and its output can then be fed into an identically designed gate via sound wave.

"Anything you can do with an electronic, semiconductor computer, you could do with these [nanomechanical] computers," said UQ's Warwick Bowen.

From New Scientist
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