Parallel-Computer built from single Layer of Molecules

Wissenschaftler haben einen Parallel-Rechner aus Ketten einzelner Moleküle gebaut, der ähnlich rechnet, wie das Gehirn. This is how it starts.

Today, Anirban Bandyopadhyay at National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, unveil a promising new approach. At the heart of their experiment is a ring-like molecule called 2,3-dichloro-5,6-dicyano-p-benzoquinone, or DDQ.

This has an unusual property: it can exist in four different conducting states, depending on the location of trapped electrons around the ring. What's more, it's possible to switch the molecule from one to state to another by zapping it with voltages of various different strengths using the tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope. It's even possible to bias the possible states that can form by placing the molecule in an electric field

Place two DDQ molecules next to each other and it's possible to make them connect. In fact, a single DDQ molecule can connect with between 2 and 6 neighbours, depending on its conducting state and theirs. When one molecule changes its state, the change in configuration ripples from one molecule to the next, forming and reforming circuits as it travels.

Given all this, it's not hard to imagine how a layer of DDQ molecules can act like a cellular automaton, with each molecule as a cell in the automaton. Roughly speaking, the rules for flipping cells from one state to another are set by the bias on the molecules and the starting state is programmed by the scanning tunnelling microscope.

And that's exactly what these guys have done.

Massively Parallel Computer Built From Single Layer of Molecules (via /.)