Electronic chips self-heal after laser blast
It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a team of engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), for the first time ever, has developed just such self-healing integrated chips.
The team demonstrated this self-healing capability in tiny power amplifiers. The amplifiers are so small that 76 of the chips—including everything they need to self-heal—could fit on a single penny.
In perhaps the most dramatic of their experiments, the team destroyed various parts of their chips by zapping them multiple times with a high-power laser, and then observed as the chips automatically developed a work-around in less than a second.
“It was incredible the first time the system kicked in and healed itself. It felt like we were witnessing the next step in the evolution of integrated circuits,” says Ali Hajimiri, professor of electrical engineering. “We had literally just blasted half the amplifier and vaporized many of its components, such as transistors, and it was able to recover to nearly its ideal performance.
The team’s results appear in the March issue of IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques.