Your Wetware Is Obsolete - Engineers Build a Bio-Powered Computer Chip

Your Wetware Is Obsolete - Engineers Build a Bio-Powered Computer Chip

Engineers at Columbia University have constructed the world's first biologically-powered computer chip, using chemicals and techniques more often found in the cells of our own bodies.

In another example of the many dangers faced in overcrowded university labs, engineers from Columbia University have announced the invention of a new, biologically-powered chip:

"Hey!" shouts the computer scientists, "you got some ATP, the unit of organic cellular currency, in my solid-state semi-conductor!"

"No," retorts the organic chemist, "you got some solid-state semi-conductor in my adenosine triphosphate, or ATP for short!"

Thus ends my one-act play about the invention of new computer chip that is powered by the same chemicals and processes that run the very cells in our bodies. As you've gleaned from the script, the solid-state "complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor" (CMOS) is using the stuff in our cells that normally ferries chemical energy for metabolism for its own use.

"In combining a biological electronic device with CMOS, we will be able to create new systems not possible with either technology alone," says Ken Shepard, who led the study and is the main character in my second play-through of Mass Effect (he chooses synthesis, obviously).

The invention opens the door to a whole realm of electronics with biological components, able to accomplish tasks that neither could do before. Like conquering the Earth and using human beings as batteries, let's say.

Source: Columbia Engineering


Can someone break this down into something that us laymen can understand? I mean... okay, a bio-powered computer chip, but...

Can someone break this down into something that us laymen can understand? I mean... okay, a bio-powered computer chip, but...

ATP, a molecule, is a common source of energy for our body, its not the only one, but I think this device uses the fact that when ATP has a "P" removed, (it has 3 P's, hence triphsophate), then this leaving "P" causes energy to be produced, which is the electrons released. ( since electrons are responsible for chemical bonds).

As far as the semi conductor part, I have no idea. I'm just an undergrad in biology so take my words with grain of salt.

Well i am merely a layman so i may be wrong but i think it means that instead of using batteries or other electric energy sources to power CMOS chips its using biochemical energy ATP the same thing that our bodies use to function
ATP can be metabolised from glucose which we get from food
it will probably have advantages in heat management and perhaps in cybernetics and prostheses
the research is about how we run energy through the chips and less about using organics to process information or run commands

EDIT just in case some one doesn't know CMOS chips are currently used to store BIOS data on mother boards among other things

Soon... very soon....


That's pretty neat. Glad I paid attention to the Krebs cycle in my various anatomy and physiology classes, what ATP is and does, that this actually makes sense on a basic level to me. Cool.

This is pretty huge. ATP is the primary short term energy storage chemical used by cells and as such every cell in our body is making and using ATP as part of their normal functionality. In theory if they got a machine like this small enough you would actually be able to have nanite's which enter a cell be powered by the ATP the cell already is generating for power.

Also in a slightly amusing note even if the machines did nothing but stay powered on they they might actually serve as a viable way to lose weight.

well, that sounds very useful for bio-implants.

From the really advanced stuff of science fiction, but also just the basic stuff that's commonplace already.

If you have a pacemaker, you need surgery every time the battery runs flat.
It'd be much better if it was powered directly by your body, wouldn't it?

the potential of this is incredible from cybernetics through to biologically based computing


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