Washington, March 12 : A team of experts led by an Indian-origin researcher in Japan has designed a tiny computer that mimics how the brain works. r. Arindam Bandyopadhyay, an artificial intelligence and molecular electronics scientist at the National Institute for Materials Science at Tsukuba, says that the device can simultaneously carry out 16 times more operations than a normal computer transistor.
He believes that the device may one day be provided with the ability to carry out about 1,000 times more operations than a transistor.
The research team has made the new machine from a compound called duroquinone, which resembles a hexagonal plate with four cones linked to it, "like a small car".
Duroquinone's less than a nanometre (a billionth of a meter) length makes it hundreds of times smaller than a wavelength of visible light.
The machine is made of 17 duroquinone molecules-one molecule sits at the centre of a ring formed by the remaining 16. The entire invention sits on a surface of gold.
Just like the brain's power lies in the communication between brain cells, Dr. Bandyopadhyay says that the new machine's efficacy lies in the transmission of different instructions from the central duroquinone to each of the surrounding 16 molecules.
"All those connections are why the brain is so powerful," Live Science quoted Dr. Bandyopadhyay as saying.
The researchers have so far shown that their invention can be connected with eight other such "molecular machines" so that they could work together as part of a miniature factory.
Dr. Bandyopadhyay envisions the use of his tiny machine as a controlling element of complex gadgets like microscopic doctors or factories.
"Imagine taking assemblies of molecular machines and inserting them into the blood, perhaps if you wanted to destroy a tumour inside the body," he says.
Currently, the device is operated with an extremely sharp electrically conductive needle that belongs to a bulky scanning tunnelling microscope, far larger than the 17 molecules used in the machine.
However, Bandyopadhyay hopes that in future, his team can issue commands to the machine using molecules that deliver electric pulses instead.
Although the device needs to be made in vacuum conditions at extremely cold temperatures, Bandyopadhyay says that it can be operated at room temperature.