Self-Healing Circuits That Are Indestructible

Self-Healing Circuits That Are Indestructible

By Shinji Tutoru

CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, CA, USA. A team of researchers has successfully developed self-healing integrated chips. If these chips can be applied to any electronic system, they can operate independently without the need for human intervention in diagnosing and fixing their problems. They will be very useful for imaging, radar applications, and next-generation communications and sensing.

The team is composed of the following: Steven Bowers, Kaushik Dasgupta, Kaushik Sengupta and Ali Hajimiri. The team wanted to provide a healing ability to integrated-circuit chips that is similar to a human’s immune system. The chips should be capable of detecting and responding quickly to any form of bombardments in order for the bigger system to continue functioning at its maximum level.

The self-healing capability of the integrated chips was demonstrated in tiny power amplifiers. The amplifiers are so tiny that 76 chips could fit on a single penny. The team used high-power laser in destroying different parts of the chips. Then they observed how the chips automatically developed a work around in self-healing themselves in less than a second.

The power amplifier they constructed made use of a lot of robust, on-chip sensors that track power, current, temperature and voltage. All the information gathered by the sensors is sent to a central processor which is a custom-made application-specific integrated-circuit unit on the same chip. The central processor then analyzes the amplifier’s overall performance. Also, it determines if it requires some adjustments to the system’s actuators which are the changeable parts of the chip.

The self-healing ability stresses 4 classes of problems: long-term aging problems that arise due to repeated use can change the internal properties of the system; static variation that is a result of variation across components; deliberate or accidental catastrophic destruction of the circuit’s parts and short-term variations caused by environmental conditions like temperature and differences in the voltage supply.

Invention Self-healing Integrated Chips
Organization California Institute of Technology, CA, USA
Researcher Steven Bowers, Kaushik Dasgupta, Kaushik Sengupta and Ali Hajimiri
Field(s) Green Technology, Electronics, Electro-technology, Communications Technology, Circuits, Microchips
Further Information CALTECH

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