NASCENCE is a collaborative project in Unconventional Computing (UComp) funded by Future Emerging Technologies in the EU FP7 program (started 1/11/2012 for a duration of 3 years).

NASCENSE aims at exploring the future of computation. A future where nanosystems are laying the foundation of information processing devices. A full achievement of our objectives would provide not only a major disruptive technology for the electronics industry but could also lead the path to the next industrial revolution. The potential impact on society and the quality of life in general ranges from medicine, everyday household items, energy-saving policies, security and communication at large.

The success of computation is to a large extend due to scaling and integration. The size of transistors - the basic building block in processors - and of other integrated circuits has been reduced by a factor of 500 since the introduction of the first microprocessor in 1971. Simultaneously integration has increased the number of transistors integrated on a chip by a factor of 600,000.

Future growth with such a formidable scaling will open for devices with multi-billon units, each unit at a scale of a few nanometers. In order to take full advantage of such nanoscale devices as well as to sustain growth in information processing capability, NASCENSE explores the possibility to build information processing devices exploiting the power of evolution. Instead of today's rigid top-down design approach, specifying every detailed units and connection, NASCENCE will use computer-controlled manipulation of physical nanosystems to evolve useful computation.

Evolution is a bottom-up process that is able to exploit the emergent physical and chemical properties of molecules. It is par excellence a physical exploitation process. Natural evolution uses the enormous complexity of molecular interactions and also the huge parallelism of physical systems. This is the inspiration behind the NASCENCE project which aims to emulate Nature, making use of a computer-controlled Darwinian evolution to create sophisticated information processing systems in materials.

NASCENCE's path toward exploiting emergent physical and chemical properties for computation is a combination of modelling and experiments on real physical systems. The experimental work is performed on custom-built hardware and software interfacing physical nanosystem defined and produced within the NASCENCE project. Experimental results backed with mathematical modelling aim at paving the way for the realisation of nanosystems capable of solving problems that are challenging or impossible to solve with conventional methods and models of computation.