The world’s smallest “computer” is so tiny that one would think that it is utterly useless, but as it turns out, it could be big news for the future of health monitoring.
The University of Michigan has come up with a temperature sensing ‘computer’ measuring just 0.3mm – so small it beats the one developed by IBM.
It is about a tenth the size of IBM’s former record-setter, and so sensitive that its transmission LED could instigate currents in its circuits.
The term “computer” is used loosely by the university, as it continues to question what exactly a computer is. It does have a processor, but unlike a full-sized computer, it loses all data when it loses power.
The limitations of the size forced researchers to re-imagine ways that reduces the effects of light on the device. They switched from diodes to switched capacitors, and had to fight the relative increase in electrical noise that comes from running on a device that uses so little power.
The result of their experiments is a sensor that measures changes in extremely small regions, such as a group of cells in a body. That could lead to knowing what causes the growth of a tumor, reducing the risk of cancer and diagnosing glaucoma from inside the eye.
Other applications of the device include oil reservoir monitoring, biochemical process monitoring, audio and visual surveillance, and also a cuter purpose – for studying tiny snails.