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Programmable computer chip created

Harvard University researchers have developed a programmable computer

Harvard University researchers have used tiny "nanowires" to develop a programmable computer chip which is capable of performing basic arithmetic and logic functions.

The research team led by Professor Charles Lieber built the programmable tiles from germanium wires, sheathed in a silicon shell, several thousand times thinner than a human hair.

It is possible to change the tile's computing functions by applying small electric currents.

Prof Lieber said: "This work represents a quantum jump forward in the complexity and function of circuits built from the bottom up, and thus demonstrates that this bottom-up paradigm - which is distinct from the way commercial circuits are built today - can yield nanoprocessors and other integrated systems of the future."

Researchers hope the new chips could pave the way for developing smaller computers.

The latest findings have been reported in the journal Nature.

Copyright Press Association 2011

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