Scientists at Harvard University have created tiny computers, which can be stored in liquid and assemble themselves when poured out.
Just atoms across, these tiny logic gates and memory modules suspended in liquid could be the next step in chip technology, eventually replacing silicon.
Harvard Magazine reported that chemistry professor Charles Lieber and his team of chemists have created a transistor just 10 atoms across.
The nanowires, essentially the smallest part of a transistor, were created using a catalyst, that only grows in one direction, poured through grooves in a polymer block, to create a length of wire as small as three nanometres.
The smaller the transistor, the higher the density of them on the chip, and so the more powerful the chip.
In the future, such developments could eliminate the need for storage devices such as disk drives, because solid state memory would be capable of holding so much.
The nanowires also allow electrons to flow through without losing energy, combating the problem of heat build-up which is prevalent in traditional circuits.
Now the Harvad team is looking at integrating optical circuits into the nano-computers, "which may be a way of enabling the concept of quantum computing," Lieber speculated.
One of the Holy Grails of technology, quantum computing allows for bits to be set to both one and zero simultaneously, a state known as superposition.
This allows computers to solve the most complex of algorithms that would take conventional machines decades to complete.
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