Computers based on fluids instead of silicon is not a new concept, and now researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have shown how computational logic operations could be performed in a liquid medium by simulating the trapping of ions (charged atoms) in graphene floating in saline solution. The scheme might also be used in applications such as water filtration, energy storage or sensor technology.
NIST's ion-based transistor and logic operations are simpler in concept than earlier proposals. The new simulations show that a special film immersed in liquid can act like a solid silicon-based semiconductor. For example, the material can act like a transistor, the switch that carries out digital logic operations in a computer. The film can be switched on and off by tuning voltage levels like those induced by salt concentrations in biological systems.