Futurologists always frighten their readers with the growing power of artificial intelligence (AI), which is based on common computer systems. However, AI can be organized differently. For several years, the researchers of the Centre for Nonlinear Chemistry of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University have been trying to create a computer, based on the principle of Belousov-Zhabotinsky chemical reaction.

Interaction of oscillators, the solution droplets in which the Belousov-Zhabotinsky oscillatory reaction takes place, is the basis of neurochemical computer operation system. According to Prof. Dr Vladimir Vanag, head of the Centre for Nonlinear Chemistry (IKBFU), this reaction looks like magic for some people, though there is nothing magical in it at all. There are four chemical elements involved, which are very cheap and common, and they are malonic acid, bromate, sulfuric acid and catalyst. It is also very important to follow three conditions of the reaction. Firstly, there should be autocatalysis, which is a positive feedback reaction when its output produces the raw materials necessary for an identical reaction. Secondly, there should be a negative feedback, which returns everything to its original state. But the main thing here is that these two types of feedback should follow each other. If this process is properly organized, then the Belousov-Zhabotinsky chemical reaction triggers.


Recently, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, one of the most famous scientific journals, has published the study of Prof. Dr Vladimir Vanag and two postgraduates Pavel Smelov and Ivan Proskurin.

Prof. Dr Vladimir Vanag, head of the Centre for Nonlinear Chemistry (IKBFU):

Today we know how to influence the system of oscillators so it behaves in a certain way and adapts to external conditions or, in other words, behaves intelligently. I mean, we made another step towards the creation of a neurochemical computer.
You may wonder why we need a computer like that. What are the advantages of neurochemical computers? The answer may surprise you. They should have the same advantages as the human brain has. Yes, people calculate slower than regular computers but people can carry out many tasks at the same time. Just imagine that neurochemical computers will be multitasking, too.


Neurochemical computers will be resistant to malware and they won’t need electricity, which means that they will be much cheaper than the regular ones. Such AI is supposed to be more understandable and closer to people at the emotional level. Moreover, nobody knows how exactly the human brain works yet, so the researchers of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University try to find out how small networks of chemical oscillators work and what functions such networks can carry out.

Prof. Dr Vladimir Vanag presumes that common computers and neurochemical computers will be developing in parallel. In future, it will be possible to unite both computers in one cybernetic organism. Neurochemical computers are very small, so they can be implanted in the body or taken as pills. However, all these forecasts look like science fiction so far.