California Institute of Technology (Caltech) researchers say they have developed self-healing integrated chips that can automatically repair themselves. During testing, the researchers destroyed various parts of the chips by zapping them with high-powered lasers, and then observed as they developed a work-around in less than a second. We “blasted half the amplifier and vaporized many of its components, such as transistors, and it was able to recover to nearly its ideal performance,” says Caltech professor Ali Hajimiri. The chips rely on sensors that monitor temperature, current, voltage, and power. The information from the sensors feeds into a custom application-specific integrated-circuit (ASIC) unit on the chip, a central processor that acts as the brain of the system. “We have designed the system in a general enough way that it finds the optimum state for all of the actuators in any situation without external intervention,” says Caltech’s Steven Bowers. By demonstrating that the self-healing capability works well in an advanced system, the researchers hope to show that the self-healing approach can be extended to other electronic systems. “Bringing this type of electronic immune system to integrated-circuit chips opens up a world of possibilities,” Hajimiri says.