Caltech researchers have demonstrated a complex integrated circuit that survives substantial damage by reconfiguring the way it processes information.
The chip does not physically repair flaws; it uses a second processor to come up with new ways to perform a task in spite of the damage. The chip can also be programmed to prioritize energy savings or speed. Ali Hajimiri, the Caltech professor of electrical engineering who led the work, says chips that tune their own performance on the fly could also perform better under ordinary circumstances.
Self-healing circuits could be resilient to manufacturing flaws, and they could withstand damage caused by high temperatures or the deterioration that comes with aging. That could mean more robust military communications equipment and portable consumer electronics that can take a beating.