Let's talk about lab water
Let's talk about lab water
A computer so small that you could wear it … not in a watch or bracelet, but on your skin. Are we sounding a bit like Tomorrow’s World (BBC1 TV programme 1965-2003) or Back to the Future?
Remember in the 1960s when a computer featuring 1 KB of memory was the size of a warehouse? The first personal computer was available in the 1970s, and the evolution of computers throughout the short space of 75 years (the equivalent of one generation … and how long ELGA has been around!) has progressed to the point that we now have small portable computers with expandable and external hard-drive memories up to 8 TB (the equivalent of around 8 billion KB).
You might ask, what does this have to do with pure water? Well let me tell you!
What would happen if you dropped your mobile into a puddle or a bucket of water? Well it depends on the minerals found in that water, or rather the concentrations of the minerals. If you were to drop your mobile in a puddle of salty sea water, your phone may not be as lucky. The general advice would be to wash it under a tap or with distilled water and then dry it out, with the hope that it will work again. Drop your phone in a puddle of Dead Sea water, and you may need a miracle.
This is because the complex circuitry found in these super micro-computers is so sensitive to contamination and little particles such as salt, that the crystallization would short-circuit the micro-electronics rendering it pretty useless.
But maybe if you were to drop your phone in pure or ultra-pure water your faithful phone would stand a chance? You may just need to dry it out before making that phone call though! Unsurprisingly, there has been very little research done to test out this hypothesis apart from one home-made YouTube video.
The materials used to make any form of computer have until now relied on a rigid silicon-based element. To ensure that the micro-circuitry of this was not contaminated, the silicone wafers used to build the moulds were washed with ASTM Type E-I water in a cleanroom laboratory and then baked to evaporate any moisture. Despite the different flexible materials, such as plastic or supple strips of silicone, required to build wearable computers the micro-circuitry is still prone to the same contamination as their silicone wafer predecessors.
A team of bioengineers from Seoul National University has developed a computer patch which delivers medication to sufferers of Parkinson’s disease automatically. The patch itself is small and compact enough to sit on the skin. The possible implications and opportunities of such a technological advance are endless.
Currently the key components required for the circuitry are limited, but perhaps with the continued research and evolution of the field of nano-technology as well as the discovery of new materials, such as the topical graphene, the future of such wearable computers will become more feasible and common.