To invent...

To invent a new kind of machine that can do better, the team began experimenting on other types of materials, including glass. Their early work turned out to be quite effective, but then the team thought: maybe we can make glass? They started studying how the different facets of glass are affected by heat.

Then in 2006, using a simple light source, they figured out that glass has a way of shrinking, so that its facets can be created. The team called their new glass a "self-assembly machine." "We think of self-assembly as assembly through the use of various mechanical and chemical controls," says Shih." This is why we are still using those same controls to drive the process." Their new machine has a control for a pressure system that makes it take more pressure than normal. They used this pressure control when they needed it, like applying a thin coating to glass that allowed the glass to grow in size. And that is why in the end the glass was able to take on a thickness as much as 12 inches. It took four years to create this machine. In addition, their next goal was to create a better version of the computer that could process more data at once. They discovered something else, too: they had an idea for how to print these parts. So after three years of experimentation with materials, the team now had the equipment to do so.

Shen and his team are now creating a computer with the ability to run on a single machine.

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