A new type of "wet computer
" that mimics the actions of neurons in the brain is slated to be built thanks to a €1.8M EU emerging technologies program. The goal of the project is to explore new computing environments rather than to build a computer that surpasses current performance of conventional computers. "The group's approach hinges on two critical ideas. First, individual 'cells' are surrounded by a wall made up of so-called lipids that spontaneously encapsulate the liquid innards of the cell. Recent work has shown that when two such lipid layers encounter each other as the cells come into contact, a protein can form a passage between them, allowing chemical signaling molecules to pass. Second, the cells' interiors will play host to what is known as a Belousov-Zhabotinsky or B-Z chemical reaction. Simply put, reactions of this type can be initiated by changing the concentration of the element bromine by a certain threshold amount."