MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms is an interdisciplinary initiative exploring the boundary between computer science and physical science. CBA studies how to turn data into things, and things into data. It manages facilities, runs research programs, supervises students, works with sponsors, creates startups, and does public outreach.
CBA was launched by a National Science Foundation award in 2001 to create a unique digital fabrication facility that gathers tools across disciplines and length scales for making and measuring things. These include electron microscopes and focused ion beam probes for nanostructures, laser micromachining and X-ray microtomography for microstructures, and multi-axis machining and 3D printing for macrostructures. These are supported by instrumentation for processing and characterizing materials and devices. CBA's tools are available around the clock for its users working on projects that integrate these capabilities.
CBA's projects involve collaborations with researchers from across MIT's campus and around the world. CBA personnel have participated in advances at the boundary between bits and atoms including what were among the first complete quantum computations, using nuclear spins in molecules; physical one-way cryptographic functions, implemented by mesoscopic light scattering; microfluidic bubble logic, with bits that transport materials as well as information; asynchronous logic automata, to align hardware with software; intelligent infrastructure, for energy efficiency; recoding the genome; coded folding, for programming matter; and the additive assembly of functional digital materials. CBA's research is illustrated in this presentation ("i" for index).