Could honey end the shortage of computer chips?

Researchers have developed an electronic chip based on honey. More ecologically and sustainably, can these innovative components put an end to the shortage that paralyzes the industry?

In a study published in the Journal of Physics D, researchers from Washington State University (WSU) believe that honey can be used to design electronic chips. To prove their claims, scientists have developed a chip “neuromorphic”.

This is a component designed for mimic the function of neurons and human brain synapses. By drawing inspiration from the way the brain processes and stores information, researchers assure that it is possible to revolutionize data processing.

Microchips that mimic the human brain

To achieve this, the scientific community seeks to bring computers closer to the human brain. It is especially in this perspective machine learning, or “machine learning”, was born. This area of ​​expertise aims to model the operation of machines after a human being.

For the same purpose, researchers at Washington State University have created a memristor using honey. This electronic component makes it possible tomimic the plasticity of the brain, the key to communication between neurons in the human brain and to evolve according to the electrical signals received. In other words, the memristor is an organic version of the transistor, the component found in most electronic circuits.

To develop these neuromorphic chips, the researchers placed solid honey between two metal electrodes. This structure allowed them to effectively mimic the function of a synapse, the area where two neurons come in contact.

“It is a very small device with a simple structure, but it has very similar functionality to a human neuron. This means that if we can integrate millions or billions of these honey memristors together, then they can be transformed into a neuromorphic system that acts as a human brain. “, explains Feng Zhao, a professor at Washington State University and author of the report. The researcher specifies that a memristor is no larger than a human hair.

Greener chips

Neuromorphic chips have several benefits. According to the authors of the study, they are first able to deliver a force similar to a human brain. In addition, the solid honey used “does not deteriorate”. For Feng Zhao guarantees the presence of the sweet substance designed by bees a long life expectancy to his chips. Energy consumption also tends to be lower than the usual chips.

It is important that honey-based microchips are biodegradable and readily renewable. Memristers are soluble in water, the researchers point out. “When we want to remove devices that use honey computer chips, we can easily dissolve them in water. Because of these special properties, honey is very useful in creating sustainable and biodegradable neuromorphic systems.”, adds Feng Zhao. It is clear that honey presents itself as a solution to the accumulation of electronic waste.

A solution to the shortcoming?

This discovery comes in the context of chronic deficiency. Since the Covid-19 crisis, the entire industry has suffered from a shortage of computer chips. Weakened by health restrictions, the production lines still cannot be met demand from manufacturers. Despite the creation of new factories, many experts believe that the shortage of microchips will persist.

The emergence of a new generation of chips, presented as sustainable, could facilitate the production of semiconductors. In fact, it is easier for manufacturers to produce chips with a renewable material, such as honey, than with rare metals. Note that electronic components are generally composed of about sixty materials, including certain metals and rare earths. In order to produce semiconductors, companies are also dependent on certain noble gases.

However, these rare goods risk becoming unattainable. Unfortunately, research into honey-based neuromorphic compounds is still in its infancy.


National Science Foundation

Leave a Comment