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Future computers may use living slime moulds

Is the age of the biological computer upon us? Well, you many soon bid adieu to solid silicon devices as European researchers have constructed logical circuits using living slime moulds. These have the potential to act as the building blocks for computing devices and sensors, revealed a study published in the journal Materials Today.

Found in a wide variety of colors, more than 900 species of slime mold occur all over the world. Their common name refers to part of some of these organisms’ life cycles where they can appear as gelatinous “slime”. The slime mold uses spores to reproduce.

The team of researchers include Andrew Adamatzky from University of the West of England, Bristol, UK and Theresa Schubert from Bauhaus-University Weimar, Germany. In order to process information, the above-mentioned logical circuits exploit networks of interconnected slime mold tubes.

Using the dyes with magnetic nanoparticles and tiny fluorescent beads, the researchers said they were able to use the slime mold network as a biological “lab-on-a-chip” device.

So far, a slime mold network has been demonstrated to carry out XOR or NOR Boolean operations. Chaining together arrays of such logic gates might allow a slime mold computer to carry out binary operations for computation.

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“The slime mold based gates are non-electronic, simple and inexpensive, and several gates can be realized simultaneously at the sites where protoplasmic tubes merge,” said Adamatzky and Schubert.