University of Utah electrical engineer Massood Tabib-Azar has developed micro-electro-mechanical “logic gates” that resist intense heat and ionizing radiation (Image: Lee J. Siegel/University of Utah)
These two logic gates (XOR on the right, AND on the left) are made of microscopic mechanical parts and designed to resist ionizing radiation that fries conventional silicon electronics (Image: Massood Tabib-Azar/University of Utah)
Shown here are three kinds of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) circuits built from microscopic mechanical devices, known as “logic gates,” designed to resist ionizing radiation. The circuits are a 2-bit multiplexer (left), a 1-bit full adder (center) and a 2-bit full adder (right) (Image: Massood Tabib-Azar/University of Utah)
High-radiation environments are a silicon microchip's worst nightmare and even state-of-the-art radiation-shielded circuits can fry after just a couple hours of exposure. Now engineers at the University of Utah have come up with a micro-electromechanical system that could be used to build robots and computers that are impervious to such conditions and may help us deal with high bursts of space radiation, damaged nuclear power plants or even the aftermath of a nuclear attack.
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