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Neutrinos, paint, walls and human bodies interest ARM

CTO gives insight into the weird
Wed Jan 19 2011, 17:29

ARM HAS BEEN providing chip designs for neutrino detection and is working on ideas for processors that can be embedded in walls or even in the human body.

That is according to the company's CTO Mike Muller, who spoke about his company's chips being buried in the Antarctic for neutrino detection at the Common Platform Technology Forum in Santa Clara, California.

The Icecube Neutrino Observatory; a square kilometre sensing network that is being drilled into the ice of the Antarctic, is using ARM technology. Cores have been drilled into the ice using hot water and then 90 sensors using ARM chips are lowered into each hole. "We're treating this as a single computer as all the data comes back to a single screen point," he said.

The system is designed to hunt for neutrinos, which are emitted by suns and have hardly any mass. This makes them difficult to detect. The detectors pick up flashes of blue light called Cherenkov radiation that occur when a neutrino strikes one of the water atoms in the ice.

As for chips in walls and people, Muller said he'd been inspired by a presentation suggesting that once chip sizes fell to 2mm by 2mm they could be mixed with paint and embedded in walls and in people.

There were some problems with this idea he explained. In the former case such chips have already been promoted to check continuously on building integrity but implantable chips, known as wetware, for people took a leap of imagination, Muller explained.

He showed delegates ARM designs for a combined pressure sensor, chip, solar cell and antenna that was one cubic millimetre in size, which is the largest object eye surgeons are willing to implant in an eye.

The sensor could be used to monitor the progress of illnesses like glaucoma and alert doctors quickly if problems get worse without the need for a doctor's visit. µ


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