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Modern high-speed integrated circuits can be fragile things. Even a single fault can often render them completely inoperable. But a team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) says it has developed an "immune system" for chips that can allow circuits to route around problems and keep working in the face of failures – even ones as catastrophic as being blasted with a high-energy laser.The team demonstrated the technology using a millimeter-wave power amplifier – a type of cutting-edge circuit used for next-generation communications, imaging, and sensing applications.Even after they zapped the chip repeatedly with a laser, utterly destroying some of its components, the self-healing system was able to detect the faults, route around them, and continue to function at near-optimal efficiency."It was incredible the first time the system kicked in and healed itself. It felt like we were witnessing the next step in the evolution of integrated circuits," said Ali Hajimiri, a professor of electrical engineering at Caltech.The system works by equipping the power amplifier with a collection of on-chip sensors that monitor current, voltage, power, and temperature. The data from these low-power sensors is then fed into a custom on-chip ASIC that controls the self-healing process.