Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Photochromic molecular implementations of universal computation

Chaplin, Jack C.; Krasnogor, Natalio; Russell, Noah A.


Natalio Krasnogor

Noah A. Russell


Unconventional computing is an area of research in which novel materials and paradigms are utilised to implement computation. Previously we have demonstrated how registers, logic gates and logic circuits can be implemented, unconventionally, with a biocompatible molecular switch, NitroBIPS, embedded in a polymer matrix. NitroBIPS and related molecules have been shown elsewhere to be capable of modifying many biological processes in a manner that is dependent on its molecular form. Thus, one possible application of this type of unconventional computing is to embed computational processes into biological systems. Here we expand on our earlier proof-of-principle work and demonstrate that universal computation can be implemented using NitroBIPS. We have previously shown that spatially localised computational elements, including registers and logic gates, can be produced. We explain how parallel registers can be implemented, then demonstrate an application of parallel registers in the form of Turing machine tapes, and demonstrate both parallel registers and logic circuits in the form of elementary cellular automata. The Turing machines and elementary cellular automata utilise the same samples and same hardware to implement their registers, logic gates and logic circuits; and both represent examples of universal computing paradigms. This shows that homogenous photochromic computational devices can be dynamically repurposed without invasive reconfiguration. The result represents an important, necessary step towards demonstrating the general feasibility of interfacial computation embedded in biological systems or other unconventional materials and environments.


Chaplin, J. C., Krasnogor, N., & Russell, N. A. (2014). Photochromic molecular implementations of universal computation. BioSystems, 126, 12-26.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 3, 2014
Online Publication Date Oct 3, 2014
Publication Date 2014-12
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2018
Publicly Available Date Sep 25, 2019
Journal Biosystems
Print ISSN 0303-2647
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 126
Pages 12-26
Keywords Elementary cellular automata; Molecular switches; Photochromic molecules; Turing machines; Unconventional computing
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Photochromic molecular implementations of universal computation; Journal Title: Biosystems; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations