Honey could be the key to cooler, more efficient and biodegradable chips

Honey could be the next material used to create brain-like computer chips. Its proven practicality marks another step towards creating efficient and renewable processors for neuromorphic computing systems, using biodegradable products.

Research engineers from the WSU School of Engineering and Computer Science, Feng Zhao and Brandon Sueoka, first processed the honey into a solid. Then they clamped it between two electrodes, using a structure design similar to that of a human synapse. They are known as ‘memristors’ and are proficient at learning and retaining information just like human neurons.

By mimicking the brain, these memristors can work more efficiently, processing and storing data using neuromorphic computing techniques.

Neuromorphic computing is not a new thing. Both IBM and Intel have chips that make use of this brain-like structure, which has the potential to replace the von Neumann architecture in most computer systems today. And by designing these systems using honey, we’re looking at a much more eco-friendly, efficient, and long-lasting solution than today’s non-renewable chips, which are made from toxic materials.

“Honey doesn’t spoil,” explains Zhao. “It has a very low moisture concentration, so bacteria cannot survive in it. That means these computer chips will be very stable and reliable for a long time.”

Not only does this solution for neuromorphic computing have the potential to run cooler and more efficiently than traditional chips, honey-based computer chips can be discarded simply by dissolving them in water. This biodegradable approach would help reduce the 22 million tons (or more) of e-waste that accumulate year after year.

Currently, each memristor is the size of a human hair, although Zhao’s team plans to move from the microscale to the nanoscale, making memristors 1/1000th that size. The team also has plans to check the potential of aloe vera sugars and proteins for the same application.

So it could be honey or aloe vera inside future computer chips. It’s not something we’ve seen coming, but it seems like a very sweet solution for a greener technological future… If that technology can make it out of the lab, of course.

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