Researchers 3D Print Mechanical Logic Gates

Posted Date 02/26/19

Engineers and scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California, Los Angeles are 3D printing mechanical logic gates, the basic building blocks of computers that can performing any kind of math calculations.

These 3D-printed logic gates could be used to build just about anything, researchers said, embedded into any type of architected material and programmed to react to its environment by physically changing shape without the need for electricity. This would make them useful in areas of high radiation, heat, or pressure.

If you embedded logic gates into material, that material could sense something about its environment,” says lead researcher Andy Pascall. “It’s a way of having a responsive material—we like to call it a sentient material—that could have complicated responses to temperature and pressure.”

Mechanical logic gates, while are not as powerful as typical computers, could prove useful in rovers sent to hostile environments such as Venus, or else in low-power computers intended to survive nuclear or electromagnetic pulse blasts that would destroy electronic devices, researchers said.

In a Venusian rover, Pascall said scientists could build controls so if the rover got too hot, the material could open its pores to let in more coolant without the need for electricity. The devices also could be used in robots sent that explore damaged nuclear reactors (e.g., Fukushima). 

“The design is not limited in scale,” Pascall says. “We can go down to an order of several microns up to as big as you need it to be, and it can be rapidly prototyped. This would be a difficult task without 3D printing.”....



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