Magnetic Chips Bring 'Intelligent' Offices

Friday, 14 June, 2002, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK


Nanites are tiny machines the size of molecules

A breakthrough by researchers in Durham could pave the way for tiny TVs and clothes that play music.


The university research team has come up with a new generation of microscopic computers called magnetic nanites.


They say their work could allow mobile phones to send and receive television pictures, and offices to have "intelligent walls" instead of desktop computers.


It may also be possible to make magnetic chips the size of a few atoms, which could see devices like phones, calculators and music players absorbed into clothing.


Dr Cowburn's team made the breakthrough


The magnetic microchips should be ready by the autumn.


Dr Russell Cowburn said magnetic chips used less power than their electronic equivalent and were cheaper to make.


"All these years we have been making computers the same way, using electronics. Now, there is a different way.


"Magnetic chips do not use the sharp, brittle, glass-like silicon of the electronic version, so they can be incorporated into clothing.


"Another application could be to expand the functions of mobile phones, which at present are restricted by battery limitations. New phone uses would include surfing the net and sending TV pictures."


Dr Cowburn said the new chips could have important medical advantages by implanting a chip in the tops of medicine bottles to alert users of a possible overdose.


They could also be implanted in the body to monitor heart and other conditions, such as diabetes.


Chips could also be used to pebble-dash office interiors, making the walls themselves intelligent.