New computers run on water droplets

New computers run on water droplets

After a decade of hard work, scientists have finally created a working computer based on the physical movement of water droplets.

They devised a system in which water droplets are trapped in a magnetic field. When the field is rotated or flipped, droplets move in precise directions and distances, resulting in a synchronous computer based entirely on the physics of water. Researchers applied the physics of moving droplets to the operating clock, an essential component of any computer or computer-driven devices such as smartphones, airplanes, and even the internet.

Almost every computer program runs several simultaneous operations and a clock ensures that the information is synchronized. In theory, the new line of computers can perform the very same operations as common computers, although a computer based on the physical movement of water will clearly run much slower than a conventional computer based on the movement of electrons. But scientists do not aim to compete with super-fast liquid CPU computers anyway; their goal is to build a completely new class of computers that can manipulate physical matters instead of bits of information. The current chips of new computers are about half the size of a postage stamp, and the droplets are smaller than poppy seeds.

The fact that the magnetic field can control millions of droplets simultaneously makes the system exceptionally scalable. Scientists foresee that this technology can potentially turn computers into high-throughput chemistry and biology laboratories. Instead of running reactions in test tubes, each droplet can carry some chemicals and become its own test tube, and the droplet computer offers extraordinary control over these interactions.