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Computers Heal Thyself? And Brainiacs Tackling the Technology of the Brain.

May 15th, 2013

Some of the latest innovations out of the creative minds of engineers include the development of electronic chips that are capable of repairing themselves. Another revolutionary advancement offering hope for the treatment of mental disease is a brain mapping project led by a consortium of nanotechnologists, neuroscientists, and engineers.

Once again, this innovative work proves that engineering is a profession that inspires others as well as those currently working or training to work in the field.

Electronic Chips that Repair Themselves

A team at the California Institute of Technology embarked on a project to create self-healing integrated circuit chips. So far the team, part of Caltech’s High-Speed Integrated Circuits lab in the institute’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science, built a successful proof of concept using power amplifier circuitry. Amazingly, the chip handled a total transistor failure caused by a test laser blast in less than a second!

Ali Hajimiri, the Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech, commented on the successful test: “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. 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.”

Brain Activity Map Initiative Begins

Similar to the Humane Genome project, the Brain Activity Map Initiative brings together personnel across a variety of scientific disciplines to create a system of procedures and tools to help map and control the functions of the human brain. The initiative hopes to fill the knowledge gap in this area of neuroscience. As part of the project, engineers and nanotechnologists will combine their efforts to build devices capable of measuring brain activity at the neuron level.

The leaders of the project, including Karl Deisseroth, a professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, hope the initiative pays off by fostering a revolution in how mental disorders are treated. “This is part of a very long process to understand what the brain is doing, then understand how it fails, and then, finally, come up with ideas for how to fix it more precisely,” said Deisseroth.

If this kind of revolutionary work inspires you to take your engineering career to the next level, be sure to contact The Talley Group. As one of the leading engineering staffing agencies in the United States, they have the capabilities and industry contacts to further your work in engineering.

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