Imagine that the chips in your smart phone or computer could repair and defend themselves on the fly, recovering in microseconds from problems ranging from less-than-ideal battery power to total transistor failure. It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a team of engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), for the first time ever, has developed just such self-healing integrated chips.
A new project out of MIT is working to create materials that are so smart they can put themselves together.
Tibbits’s research focus is materials that assemble themselves. In the past, he’s built toys and furniture based on principles from microbiology (like self-folding proteins), where embedded magnets, combined with shaking or adding water, can make certain materials snap into a predetermined shape. Now he’s working with a research material, so new it lacks a name, that he’s wrangled into auto-transforming into the letters MIT when a strand of it is dunked in water.