Researchers from North Carolina State University have come up with a new sort of memory device that has a gelatinous consistency and an ability to work in wet environments that give it potential bio-electric applications. There are a couple of pretty revolutionary qualities that differentiate this from your garden-variety memory device. First of all, the gel uses a liquid alloy (gallium and indium) set in the water-based gel for it’s wires instead of, well, wires. This way, the gel can work in wet environments without shorting and is also remarkably flexible. This liquid alloy also transmits data in a non-standard way. Typically, electronics use electrons (go figure) for their binary communications. The gel memory however, uses ions. Basically, the alloy can switch between being resistive and conductive by being exposed to positive and negative charges respectively, which gives you your two values.
For the time being, the technology is in its infancy and for now, it doesn’t have enough capacity to hold anything of any real value. Still, the potential applications are big. Specifically, a few (hundred(thousand)) iterations down the line, this sort of memory could be used in technology designed to interface with cells and other organic matter. In the mean time, philosophers better start figuring out what constitutes humanity because its looking like cybernetics are coming down the pipe and I need to know if getting a memory stick (or blob) in my brain requires me to forfeit my soul. I don’t know how much cybernetic RAM my soul is worth quite yet, but I’ve already started the preliminary calculations.
(via Wired UK)
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