Chemical Computer Will Mimic Brain Neurons
The EU Emerging technologies program is funding a new project to build a “wet computer” which will emulate the behavior of neurons by creating an infrastructure that functions like the human brain. Inside the computer, “cells” will be coated with a layer of synthetic lipids, utilizing proteins in order to transfer chemical signals between the emulated neurons. The cells will be controlled through a process called the Belousov-Zhabotinsky or B-Z chemical reaction which regulates activity by changing the concentration of the element bromine. When the simulated cells reach a critical threshold, they will become impermeable to further signaling, just as human neurons do. These unique qualities will allow researchers to compute data in a manner similar to how the human brain processes information.
Inspired by recent understandings of neurochemistry, the project is the latest endeavor in a series of efforts to develop computers designed in accordance with biological principles. Several theories have been put forth as to how the next threshold of computing will be achieved. Authors have speculated that the next wave of computers will be arranged in three dimensions rather than our current two-dimensional motherboards, or that they will be based in quantum processing, or that they will eventually match the complexity of organic intelligence by imitating natural chemical biological patterns. While the project is not attempting to create a user-friendly computer for public use, this three year, 1.8 million euro program may be a peek into one branch of the future of computer design.