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Pneumatic Computer Uses Pressure Instead of Electricity

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Part of a computer chip made of glass and silicone, with channels that hold liquids.

Differences in pressure push liquids through the channels, which mimics the way voltage changes make electricity flow through wires in electronic computer chips.

Credit: Hui Lab/UC Irvine

Elliot Hui and colleagues at the University of California, Irvine built a computer from glass and silicone that encodes data using pneumatic pressure instead of electricity.

The researchers sandwiched a 0.25-millimeter (0.009-inch)-thick silicone sheet between two panes of glass etched with tiny channels to conduct liquids for chemical reactions, then perforated the silicone layer to link the channels.

Pressure variations impel liquids through the channels, similar to how voltage changes direct electricity through wires in electronic computer chips.

The researchers coded programs by using different silicone sheets as "punch cards," and inputted data by placing their fingers over designated points to change pressure.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2023 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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