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Massively Parallel Computer Built From Single Layer of Molecules

Technology Review (10/27/11)

Researchers at the National Institutes for Materials Science recently unveiled a new molecule, called 2,3-dichloro-5,6-dicyano-p-benzoquinone (DDQ), which can exist in four conducting states, depending on the location of trapped electrons.  In addition, the researchers say they can switch the molecule from one state to another using voltages of different strengths.  A single DDQ molecule can connect with up to six neighboring molecules.  When one molecule changes state, the change ripples to the neighboring molecules, forming and reforming circuits as the change travels.  The Japanese researchers have set up 300 DDQ molecules on a gold substrate, initializing the system so that it calculates the way heat diffuses in a conducting medium.  The researchers note that since the entire layer is involved in the calculation, the system is a massively parallel computation.  “Generalization of this principle would … open up a new vista of emergent computing using an assembly of molecules,” says National Institutes for Materials Science researcher Anirban Bandyopadhyay.

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