Pier Luigi Gentili
Department of Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnology, University of Perugia

A Clever Strategy for Computing by Micro-Energy: Exploiting the Emergent Properties of Out-of-Equilibrium Systems

Nowadays, scientists are striving to win the Computational Complexity challenges. A first challenge is solving, accurately and in reasonable time, exponential problems having large dimensions. Another challenge concerns about the formulation of universally valid and effective algorithms for recognizing variable patterns.
To try to win these challenges, scientists are following two strategies. On one hand, they are improving current electronic computers, but on the other, they are developing the research line of Natural Computing. The latter consists in drawing inspiration from nature to propose new algorithms and new materials to compute. We are contributing to the development of Natural Computing by devising chemical systems that, working out-of-equilibrium and in non-linear regime, mimic natural phenomena and exhibit emergent properties. Emergent properties result powerful tools for transforming micro-energy in computing power. This idea is substantiated by a few examples. A first example is from chaos-computing and demonstrates how the dynamic of a chaotic hydrodynamic photochemical oscillator works as a Turing machine [1]. Two other examples come from neuromorphic engineering, whose purpose is to implement brain-like computer, imitating the performances of human intelligence [2]. One example shows that a system of properly chosen photochromic compounds can extend human vision to the UV by mimicking the way humans distinguish colors [3]. Another example reports how oscillatory reactions and photo-excitable systems, communicating through light, can emulate neural dynamics and exhibit the emergent property of synchronization [4].

[1] P. L. Gentili, et al., ChemPhysChem, 2017, DOI: 10.1002/cphc.201601443.
[2] P. L. Gentili, RSC Advances, 2013,3, 25523-25549
[3] P. L. Gentili, et al., Chem. Commun., 2016, 52, 1474-1477.
[4] P. L. Gentili, et al., Manuscript in preparation.