Smart matter consists of sensors, actuators and computers embedded in materials. These devices can alter physical properties of the material under program control. Current development of smart matter focuses primarily on microelectromechanical machines (MEMS). Even smaller machines, when they can be built cheaply and in large quantities, offer a wider range of capabilities, especially as microscopic robots for biomedical applications.
Designing robust controls is a key challenge for smart matter. Distributed control is one approach to this challenge:
Combinatorial phase transitions enable creating reliable systems from unreliable nano-electronic circuits:
For an application of quantum computing see T. Hogg and G. Chase, Quantum Smart Matter, Proc of PhysComp96, pp. 147-152, 1996.