Brains, Computers, and Intelligence

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The Los Angeles Times featured a profile of Professor James Gimzewski, highlighting his research on developing robotic systems that mimic the structure and function of the human brain.

The Los Angeles Times feature by Thomas Curwen titled, “Taking a step toward a machine that can think,” is available at

Short Biography   James Gimzewski is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles and Director of the Nano & Pico Characterization Core Facility of the California NanoSystems Institute. Prior to joining the UCLA faculty, he was a group leader at IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, where he research in nanoscale science and technology for more than 18 years. Dr. Gimzewski pioneered research on mechanical and electrical contacts with single atoms and molecules using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and was one of the first persons to image molecules with STM. His accomplishments include the first STM-based fabrication of molecular suprastructures at room temperature using mechanical forces to push molecules across surfaces, the discovery of single molecule rotors and the development of new micromechanical sensors based on nanotechnology, which explore ultimate limits of sensitivity and measurement. This approach was recently used to convert biochemical recognition into Nanomechanics. His current interests are in the nanomechanics of cells and bacteria where he collaborates with the UCLA Medical and Dental Schools. He is involved in projects that range from the operation of X-rays, ions and nuclear fusion using pyroelectric crystals, direct deposition of carbon nanotubes and single molecule DNA profiling. Professor Gimzewski is also involved in numerous art-science collaborative projects that have been exhibited in museums throughout the world.

Professor Gimzewski’s research is deeply connected with convergence and application of nanoscale science and technology with an emphasis on mechanics on the nanoscale. His research encompasses crucial aspects of physics, chemistry, engineering and life sciences, medicine and art. His research consists of:

(1) Nanomechanical dynamics and nanoarchitechtonics of living cells. This work is related to cancer, the action of drugs, environmental factors and other mutations in individual cells. The research pioneers the role of mechanics and cellular motion with the aim to develop new forms of medical diagnoses at the single cell level.

(2) Use of biochemistry and AFM to gene profile DNA on the single molecule level.

(3) Production of compact high energy beams of neutrons, photons, ions, and electrons using point source emitters coupled with piezoelectric and pyroelectric effects. Notable recent developments include the demonstration of thermo-nuclear fusion using a pocket-sized device powered by cooling the device by 20oC below ambient. Production of X-rays with fluxes suitable for X-ray radiology have also been demonstrated. 

(4) More recent work explores recycling of waste energy into electrical power.

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Detailed photos of chips developed by the Gimzewski Group.  Photo credit: Henry Sillin & Ellie Demis