With scientists constantly looking for more sustainable and eco-friendly solutions, it might not strike as a surprise, if the next computer chip is created from honey. In a recently published study, Washington State University engineers talked about this game-changing technology notifying that honey can be used to make a memristor, a component similar to a transistor that can not only process but also store data in memory.
“This is a very small device with a simple structure, but it has very similar functionalities to a human neuron,” said Feng Zhao, associate professor of WSU’s School of Engineering and Computer Science and corresponding author on the study, as quoted by WSU insider. “ This means if we can integrate millions or billions of these honey memristors together, then they can be made into a neuromorphic system that functions much like a human brain.”
Neuromorphic systems, which is opined as to the future of computing, are much faster and use much less power than traditional computers.
How were the memristors created?
Zhao and first author Brandon Sueoka created memristors by processing honey into a solid form and sandwiching it between two metal electrodes. The structure is similar to human synapse. They then tested whether the honey memristors’ are able to mimic the work of synapses. The testing was done with high switching on and off speeds of 100 and 500 nanoseconds respectively.
The memristors also emulated the synapse functions known as spike-timing dependent plasticity and spike-rate dependent plasticity, which are responsible for learning processes in human brains and retaining new information in neurons.
How small are the memristors?
The honey memristors are created on a micro-scale, so they are about the size of a human hair. Now, the scientists are planning to develop them on a nanoscale, about 1/1000 of a human hair, and bundle many millions or even billions together to make a full neuromorphic computing system.
Many researchers, including Zhao’s team, are searching for biodegradable and renewable solutions for use in this promising new type of computing. Zhao is also leading investigations into using proteins and other sugars such as those found in Aloe vera leaves in this capacity, but he sees strong potential in honey.
“Honey does not spoil,” he said. “It has a very low moisture concentration, so bacteria cannot survive in it. This means these computer chips will be very stable and reliable for a very long time.”
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