We now have computer memory that looks and feels like Jell-O

You know what's wrong with computer memory these days? If you said, "it's not enough like Jell-O," then you seriously need to get your priorities straight. But so do some researchers from NCSU, who have gone and developed "a memory device with the physical properties of Jell-O."

Let's just try and figure out why the development of Jell-O memory is a wobbly engineering milestone. Paper co-author Dr. Michael Dickey explains:

Conventional electronics are typically made of rigid, brittle materials and don't function well in a wet environment. "Our memory device is soft and pliable, and functions extremely well in wet environments — similar to the human brain."

Oh! So it's like brains. By extension, brains must be like Jell-O. Maybe I'm starting to get what all those zombies are on about. Anyway, speaking of brains, the whole point of having a wet and jiggly memory system is that it's biocompatible, and perfectly happy to operate deep inside your body without causing a ruckus.

Here's what it looks like, getting smooshed:

jello_mem.jpg

The secret to the mushiness of the device is that (just like Jell-O) it's not a solid or a liquid but a conductive gel, or (to get all fancy on you) a colloid. Inside the gel are wires made of a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium, which can be switched on and off between conductive and non-conductive states to represent the 0s and 1s that make up traditional computer memory. The memory system hasn't yet been optimized to store very much data at all, but eventually it could come in several different capacities, colors and flavors, just like conventional storage systems. Well, almost.

NCSU, via Slashdot

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