We are seeking aPhD students to join our team of researchers working on the SpInspired research project funded by EPSRC and the University of York, UK. SpInspired is developing a methodology for exploiting unconventional computing in unconventional materials such as carbon nanotubes, NMR, and liquid crystals. It is an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers from York’s Departments of Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, and the York Cross-disciplinary Centre for Systems Analysis (YCCSA).
As we approach the miniaturisation limits of conventional electronics, alternatives to silicon transistors -- the building blocks of the multitude of today’s electronic devices -- are being hotly pursued. Unconventional computing exploits unconventional material substrates within which to perform computation. Practical unconventional computing devices can comprise multiple unconventional substrates, each performing the part of the overall computation that it does best. For example, a bacterial system may be combined with an optical system to solve the `wiring problem’ of composing components, or a reaction-diffusion chemical system may be combined with a microfluidic droplet system to provide a range of contexts for the reactions. In even the simplest cases, an unconventional substrate is often combined with a conventional digital computer, for example carbon nanotubes in an evolutionary algorithm loop controlled by a traditional PC.
We have developed a computational framework called Heterotic computing (named from the term in genetics meaning ‘hybrid vigour’), which can be used to extend a theory of unconventional computing to such multiple substrates
The goal of this PhD research is to develop the practice of heterotic computing, in order to provide a practical means for designing, constructing, evaluating, and exploiting future heterotic computers. Instead of creating computing devices from predefined discrete components, the physical properties of electrically active random disordered materials in combination with suitable electronic configuration will be utilised to perform computation with them.
This project is focussed on one of the most challenging research questions in heterotic computing, which is the choice and evaluation of materials that exhibit the desired properties and behaviours to make them good computers.This will include the preparation and application of nano materials as computational substrates, initially looking at a combination of carbon nanotubes, graphene and liquid crystal. Guided by the initial results other unconventional materials will be included.
The project would suit a student with any science and/or engineering background with a keen interest in interdisciplinary work between environment, biology and computing/engineering. Basic knowledge of electronics and programming would be beneficial.
This PhD research will be co-supervised by
Dr Martin Trefzer (Dept Electronic Engineering; YCCSA) [email protected]
Dr Simon O’Keefe (Dept Computer Science; YCCSA) [email protected] https://www.york.ac.uk/yccsa/opportunities/
’Applications may close earlier than the advertised deadline is a suitable candidate is found, early application is recommended’