26 April 2010
International team claim organic computing breakthrough
by Kate Melville
A research team from Japan's National Institute for Materials Science and Michigan Technological University has replicated the problem-solving actions of neurons in an organic molecular layer that they say is massively parallel and self-healing - the first time such a brain-like circuit has been created.
Writing about his work in Nature Physics, lead researcher Anirban Bandyopadhyay said the monolayer circuit allows instantaneous changes of ~300 bits. He adds that the new processor can produce solutions to problems for which algorithms on digital computers are unknown, such as predictions of natural calamities and outbreaks of disease. To demonstrate this, the researchers have mimicked two natural phenomena: heat diffusion and the evolution of cancer cells.
Bandyopadhyay says the organic molecular processor heals itself if there is a defect, explaining that the self-healing property comes from the self-organizing ability of the molecular monolayer. No existing man-made computer has this property, but the human brain does: if a neuron dies, another neuron takes over its function.