Rupert Goodwins' Diary 16.11.2001

Wednesday 14/11/2001Comdex nothwithstanding, some traditions are thriving over in the US. We'll cover it in more detail when it happens, but the first information about the International Electron Devices Meeting in Washington next month has arrived.

Wednesday 14/11/2001

Comdex nothwithstanding, some traditions are thriving over in the US. We'll cover it in more detail when it happens, but the first information about the International Electron Devices Meeting in Washington next month has arrived. This is the place where researchers doing real science in electronics get together to show off the stuff of which they're most proud.

And it's a good bag this time round, with lots on bioelectronics in particular. Microelectronic pumps that can move liquid from area to area on chips to for analysis or reactions are promised by Duke University in North Carolina. And if you think that's impressive, that's nothing compared to the word they've coined for the technology -- integrated biomicroelectrofluidic systems. Other researchers are making insulated microscopic heaters that can be integrated onto chips alongside electronics, to make it easier to create tiny production lines.

But the prize for extreme silliness so far goes to the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry. They've found a way to put a chip with DSP, neural interfaces and everything in between two neurons, so they can analyse nerve impulses, change them and pass them on. Which means computers can mediate our perceptions or control our actions -- or would, were it not for the fact that their test subject is a water snail (I wonder if they call it Kevin?). Perhaps they don't want to take over the world just yet, after all.

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