Early step toward rearrangeable nanotechnology computers

It would be nice if we could physically rearrange the nanotech components on a computer chip after it is made. From Nanotechweb.org:

One generally promising approach for electromechanical manipulation at the nanoscale and microscale is “dielectrophoresis” – the net force experienced by a neutral dielectric object in a non-uniform electric field. In recent work at Harvard University, US, published in Nanotechnology, researchers demonstrated for the first time that dielectrophoresis may be used to assemble, reconfigure, and disassemble some of the simplest nanoelectronic components: nanowire interconnects.

Some thoughts on potential uses:

Potential future applications that would require mechanically programmable components include brain-like networks of nanostructure-based artificial synapses, breadboards for rapid prototyping of nanodevice circuits, and fault-tolerant logic in which broken subsystems are replaced automatically from a reservoir.

Interestingly, the sole author on the Nanotechnology journal article is Harvard grad student Alexander Wissner-Gross. Alex has been a busy fellow: three MIT bachelor’s degrees — he was the last student to be allowed to do this by MIT, now it’s prohibited (a bad idea by MIT) — a Marshall Scholarship, Hertz Fellowship, this research, a way to generate personalized reading lists from Wikipedia link structures, and advising the well-named company BooksOnPoster.com in their work to publish entire books, legibly, on…single posters. Alex: this is all good, but you need a real challenge. How about focusing on productive nanosystems instead? —Christine

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