A team of engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has emerged from its smoke filled labs with a species of self-healing integrated chips.
According to Psy-Org, the discovery means that chips can repair and defend themselves and recover in microseconds after catastrophes like bad batteries, total transistor failure or Justin Bieber.
Members of the High-Speed Integrated Circuits laboratory in Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science, have managed to get the the self-healing capability to work in tiny power amplifiers.
The team destroyed parts of their chips by zapping them multiple times with a high-power laser, and then watched as the chips automatically developed a work around in less than a second.
Ali Hajimiri said that it was incredible the first time the system kicked in and healed itself. He said that it was like witnessing the next step in the evolution of integrated circuits.
He said that the researchers had just blasted half the amplifier and vaporized many of its components, such as transistors, and it was able to recover to nearly its ideal performance.
The results of the experiment will appear in the March issue of “IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques” magazine which we get for the centrefold.
Until now a single fault has often turned an integrated circuit chip into a chocolate teapot. It has also meant that faults found later in chips could not be repaired.
Once further research into self-healing chips is over, a chip company could issue a software patch for a hardware cock up.