Water droplet computers: An idea that's not all wet

Researchers at Finnish school say breakthrough could lead to electricity free computing systems

The innards of computers can be a dry topic, but researchers at Aalto University in Finland have come up with a concept that is anything but: computers based on colliding water droplets.

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They've discovered that water droplets on highly water-repellent (or superhydrophobic) surfaces rebound off each other in a consistent manner that could one day enable them to be used as digital information bits. They demoed use of this method in a memory device and Boolean logic device.

"It is fascinating to observe a new physical phenomenon for such everyday objects – water droplets," said Robin Ras, an Academy Research Fellow in the Molecular Materials research group at Aalto.

Sounds a lot simpler than quantum computing, too.

The researchers aren't suggesting anyone toss out their Intel or AMD chips yet, but said water droplet computing could have practical applications, such as for biochemical labs on chips. They've published their findings in the journal Advanced Materials.

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