AALTO, Finland – A discovery by a research team at the Aalto University, Finland, has revealed the potential use of water droplets to represent digital information.
It has been revealed that if two water droplets collide with each other while moving on a highly water-repellent surface, they rebound elastically, just like billiard balls. A silver-coated copper surface treated with a fluorinated compound was used for demonstrating this effect, where superhydrophobic tracks were used for guiding water droplets.
The discovery has raised new hopes among scientists regarding “superhydrophobic droplet logic”, or the use of water droplets as bits of digital information. Memory devices and devices for elementary boolean logic operations, which are essentially building blocks of computer systems, have also been demonstrated.
Another possibility is the use of “programmable” chemical reactions, where water droplets loaded with reactive chemicals can be used to control chemical reactions. Combined with droplet logic operations, this may eventually lead to “chemical computing” where water droplets serve as miniature reactors and bits of information as well.
Superhydrophobic droplet logic will possibly lead to programmable biochemical analysis devices and autonomous simple logic devices which operate without electricity. It will also result in dramatic improvements in the field of mobile device electronics.