Vibrating mechanical switches that can be cascaded to perform complex computational operations could take computing significantly further than today's technologies.
KAUST researchers have demonstrated an alternative technology based on mechanical vibrations.
The microcomputer processors found inside every computer, mobile phone and microwave comprise mind-bogglingly complex networks of millions or billions of microscopic transistors -- electrical switches that turn on when a current flows across their terminals.
These transistors are networked together to construct logic gates that perform operations, such as AND (when two inputs are on) and OR (when either input is on).
In turn, these logic gates are connected to much larger networks to allow increasingly complex operations.
With each transistor consuming electrical current and generating heat even when not being actively switched, and with transistors approaching their physical limits of miniaturization and efficiency, the search is on for alternative technology that will eventually replace the electrical transistor and take computing into the future.