The internet of things is soon to arrive, but not until there are chips and components that can tackle the explosion of data that arrives with IoT. By 2020, nearly 50 billion industrial internet sensors will be placed all over the place.
A single autonomous device – a cleaning robot, a smart watch, or a driverless car – can generate gigabytes of data daily, whereas an airbus may have more than 10,000 sensors in just one wing.
Two obstacles have to be overcome. First, current transistors in computer chips should be miniaturized to the size of just few nanometers; the issue is they will not function anymore then. Second, examining and storing exceptional amounts of data will require equally enormous quantities of energy. Sayani Majumdar, Academy Fellow at Aalto University, together with her colleagues, is designing technology to handle both problems.
Majumdar has with her colleagues developed and fabricated the standard building blocks of future components in what are known as “neuromorphic” computers inspired by the human brain. It is a field of research on which the world’s largest ICT companies and also the EU are investing heavily. However, no one has yet designed a nano-scale hardware architecture that could be scaled to industrial manufacture and application.