Laptop created from liquid crystals would ripple with calculations

A proposal for a pc constructed utilizing liquid crystals – much like these present in LCD TVs – would use the orientation of the molecules to retailer information. Calculations would seem like ripples by means of the liquid


19 August 2022

Droplet of liquid crystal, polarised light micrograph. Magnification: x70 when printed 10cm wide.

Liquid crystal droplet underneath a microscope

Karl Gaff/Science Picture Library

Ripples and imperfections in liquid crystals like these present in TVs may very well be used to construct a brand new kind of pc.

Žiga Kos on the College of Ljubljana in Slovenia and Jörn Dunkel on the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise have proposed options for the fundamental constructing blocks of computer systems utilizing so-called nematic liquid crystals relatively than electronics.

Liquid crystals include rod-shaped molecules that slosh round like a fluid, and in these which are nematic the molecules are principally parallel to one another. For units like TV screens, the odd molecule that faces the mistaken manner must be eliminated throughout the manufacturing course of, however these defects are key for constructing a liquid crystal pc, says Kos.

In unusual computer systems, data is saved as a collection of bits, digital variations of 1s and 0s. In Kos and Dunkel’s liquid crystal pc, the data would as an alternative be translated right into a collection of faulty orientations. A liquid crystal defect may encode a special worth for each completely different diploma of misalignment with different molecules.

Electrical fields may then be used to control the molecules to carry out primary calculations, much like how easy circuits known as logic gates work in an unusual pc. Calculations on the proposed pc would seem as ripples spreading by means of the liquid.

Dunkel says that as a result of the liquid crystal pc wouldn’t use solely 0s and 1s, a few of its computations could be analogous to how quantum computer systems work, as they will concurrently course of extra data than typical computer systems. Particularly, states that aren’t fairly 0s and never fairly 1s that don’t exist in typical computer systems may very well be used. As liquid crystal expertise is pretty superior, it won’t take as lengthy to construct a pc from them because it has to construct quantum computer systems, says Dunkel.

Liquid crystals are acquainted supplies as we spend plenty of time taking a look at screens, says Thomas Machon on the College of Bristol within the UK, however the brand new research reveals that they may very well be utilized in a really completely different manner – to mimic quantum computer systems.

Kos says different researchers have already efficiently moved and assembled liquid crystal defects into patterns with electrical fields in experiments, so probably the most primary expertise for beginning to construct a nematic liquid crystal pc already exists.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI:

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