World‘s smallest computer revealed: Incredible image shows tiny machine dwarfed by a grain of rice 

The world‘s smallest computer revealed: Incredible image shows tiny machine dwarfed by a grain of rice

The University of Michigan has bested IBM in tiny computing by producing the world‘s smallest computer that is just 0.3mm long.

Researchers created a ‘microdevice‘ that is completely dwarfed by a grain of rice.

However, both IBM and the university are not sure if their devices actually qualify as a computer, because they lose all programming and dating once power is turned off. 

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‘We are not sure if they should be called computers or not. It‘s more of a matter of opinion whether they have the minimum functionality required,‘ said David Blaauw, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, who led the development of the new system.

IBM revealed their 1mm x 1mm computer at its Think 2018 conference in March.

Prior to that, the smallest computer was the 2x2x4mm Michigan Micro Mote, which could retain its programming and data even when the power is cut off.

The new device from the university is one-tenth the size of IBM‘s computer and is too small to have conventional radio antennae.

Instead, it receives and transmits data with visible light. A base station provides light for power and programming, and it receives the data.

‘We basically had to invent new ways of approaching circuit design that would be equally low power but could also tolerate light,‘ Blaauw said.

The light from the base station, and from the device‘s own transmission LED, can induce currents in its tiny circuits.

The device was designed using a precision sensor that converts temperatures into time intervals, defined with electronic pulses.

The computer can sense temperatures in the smallest of areas, such as a cluster of cells, and report it within 0.1 degrees Celsius accuracy.

The researchers hope the device can be used to advance efforts in oncology and in evaluating cancer treatments, because tumors may run hotter than normal temperatures.

WHAT ARE THE PREVIOUS RECORDHOLDERS FOR THE WORLD‘S SMALLES COMPUTER? 

The University of Michigan has bested IBM in tiny computing by producing the world‘s smallest computer that is just 0.3mm long.

Researchers created a ‘microdevice‘ that is completely dwarfed by a grain of rice.

Before it was revealed, IBM held the record for world‘s smallest computer, with theirs clocking in at an amazing 1mm x 1mm.

Prior to that, the smallest computer was the 2x2x4mm Michigan Micro Mote, which could retain its programming and data even when the power is cut off.

Similar to Michigan‘s latest model, the Michigan Micro Mote contains solar cells that power the battery with ambient light, including indoor rooms with no natural sunlight, allowing the computers to run perpetually.

This line of ‘smart dust‘ devices includes computers equipped with imagers (with motion detection), temperature sensors, and pressure sensors. 

By strobing light at a high frequency, the operator is able to send information to the computer. 

Once the Micro Mote processes the data, it is able to send the information to a central computer via conventional radio frequencies.   

‘Since the temperature sensor is small and biocompatible, we can implant it into a mouse and cancer cells grow around it,‘ said Gary Luker, a professor of radiology and biomedical engineering. 

‘We are using this temperature sensor to investigate variations in temperature within a tumor versus normal tissue and if we can use changes in temperature to determine success or failure of therapy.‘

 ‘When we first made our millimeter system, we actually didn‘t know exactly all the things it would be useful for. But once we published it, we started receiving dozens and dozens and dozens of inquiries,‘ Blaauw said.

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