Engineers Produce A Computer A Fraction Of The Size Of A Grain Of Rice.


The Michigan team just entered Guinness book of records as it produces the world’s tiniest computer. The computer measuring 0.04 cubic millimeters, which is said to be smaller than a grain of rice, is a temperature sensing computer.

It is typical of any “computer” whether a tiny embedded system or a PC to have these basic units; input/output devices, processor, memory (RAM), to be able to function properly.

The team’s new computer uses photovoltaic, a method of converting light into electricity. This consists of a processor, internal memory, wireless transmitters and receivers that send and receive data through light. “We basically had to invent new ways of approaching circuit design that would be equally low power but also tolerate light”, said Michigan team’s lead, David Blaauw.


This tiny computer currently serves as a precision temperature sensor. It uses electronic pulses to convert temperatures into timed interval. The result, for example, is the ability to report temperatures in a cluster of cells within a tumor with an error rate of around 0.1 degrees Celsius.

“Since the temperature sensor is small and biocompatible, we can implant it into a mouse and cancer cells grow around it. We are using this temperature sensor to investigate variations in temperature within a tumor versus normal tissue and we can use changes to determine success or failure of therapy.”

This task was chosen due to a need in oncology.