Prof. Neil A Gershenfeld

Director, Center for Bits and Atoms

Primary DLC

Center for Bits and Atoms

MIT Room: E15-401


James Prue

Areas of Interest and Expertise

Interface Sensors and Transducers
Real-Time Modeling
Quantum Computing
Makers / Fab Lab

Research Summary

Research advances by Dr. Gershenfeld and his students and colleagues working at the boundary between physical science and computer science include: one of the first complete quantum computations, using nuclear spins in molecules; microfluidic bubble logic, with bits that transport materials as well as information; physical one-way cryptographic functions , implemented by mesoscopic light scattering; noise-locked loops that entrain on codes, which led to analog logic integrated circuits that use continuous device dynamics to solve digital problems; asynchronous logic automata to align hardware with software; Internet 0 for interdevice internetworking; microslot probes for ultra-small-sample structural studies; integrated 6-axis inertial measurement based on the dynamics of trapped particles; charge source tomography for electric field imaging and intrabody signaling; electropermanent actuators for high torque at low RPM with static holding; and additive assembly of functional digital materials that can be used in the highest modulus ultralight structures.

Gershenfeld is the originator of the growing global network of field fab labs that provide widespread access to prototype tools for personal fabrication, and directs the Fab Academy, the associated program for distributed research and education in the principles and practices of digital fabrication.

He's spoken for events including TED (and another), the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Academy, the National Science Foundation, the White House, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the Library of Congress, the World Economic Forum, the World Science Festival, the Science & Entertainment Exchange, CERN, Google, IBM, EDUCAUSE, ACADIA, the ACM/IEEE Conference on Supercomputing, IEDM, Etech, APMM, Solid, and Maker Faire.

Recent Work

  • Video

    2020 Rapid Prototyping - Neil Gershenfeld

    April 30, 2020Conference Video Duration: 58:58
    Breaking Down Boundaries Between the Digital and the Physical World

    2020 Autonomy Day 4 - Neil Gershenfeld

    April 16, 2020Conference Video Duration: 39:16

    I will discuss research on the essential recursion that is at the heart of autonomy, from assemblers that assemble assemblers, to machines that make machines, to systems that design systems. And I will explore applications of embodying intelligence in autonomous systems in areas including exponential manufacturing, rapid automation, physical reconfigurability, and personal fabrication.

    Neil Gershenfeld - 2019 ICT Conference

    April 16, 2019Conference Video Duration: 36:51

    How to Survive and Thrive in the Third Digital Revolution

    The first digital revolution was in communication, the second in computation. The third digital revolution, in fabrication, is now completing the first two by bringing the programmability of the digital world out into the physical world. I will survey opportunities for aligning the representations of hardware and software, and explore the implications of exponential scaling in going from bits to atoms (and back).
    2019 MIT Information and Communication Technologies Conference

    Neil Gershenfeld - 2016-ICT-Conference

    April 27, 2016Conference Video Duration: 42:24

    Programming Reality

    Computer Science rests on an unphysical division between the description of a computation and its implementation. Many issues in computing, including its scalability, efficiency, and security, arise at that interface. I will introduce alternative approaches to aligning the representations of hardware and software, and explore some of the social and economic implications of programming atoms as well as bits.

    2016 MIT Information and Communication Technologies Conference