Found a way to create artificial synapses based on nanowires

The main structural element of the nervous system is a cell that transmits information to other cells through synapses. It is a complex structure that can create artificially, and even in miniature, are not so easy. However, a group of scientists from Ulimskogo research center together with their colleagues from Aachen and Turin have developed a special nano-wires, which have the ability how to save and process information, as well as parallel to many other signals. This is very similar to how the nervous system functions.

Thanks to the rapid progress in the field of artificial intelligence now AI can drive a car, you instantly translate texts, to defeat the world chess champion, win games video games and more. One of the biggest challenges is to try to artificially reproduce the signal processing of the human brain. In the usual neural network data is stored and processed largely in parallel. On the other hand, traditional computers quickly perform tasks consistently and make a clear distinction between storage and processing of information. Typically, a neural network can be simulated only on the basis of very large on a conventional computer chips and circuits.

On the other hand we have neuromorphic chips that mimic the human brain. This type of computer capable of operating in a decentralized manner, with multiple processors, which, like neurons, connected to each other by networks. If the processor fails, its functions can take on another. Moreover, as in the brain, neuromorphic chip has the ability to learn.

“With today’s semiconductor technology these functions to some degree is already achievable. However, these systems are suitable only for specific tasks. Our devices are created based on nanowires of zinc oxide. They can handle and even store information. They are very small and energy efficient.” — said in an interview with EurekAlert! leading authors Ilya Shafts, and Peter grünberg of the research center Ulimskogo.


Scheme of structure of the nanowires

In order to obtain these properties, the researchers used nanopoulos of zinc oxide. The received component is not only very small (thinner than a human hair), but also able to work much faster than flash memory. For the manufacture of nanowires, the scientists deposited the required materials on a metal substrate. Further, in order to create a functioning cell, both ends of the nanowires should be attached to suitable metal, in this case, platinum and silver. Metals are in this case, as the electrodes, and metal ions are able to spread over the surface of the wire and create a connection to change its conductivity.

A new type of materials will help in building artificial nervous systems, AI systems, and for the production of neuromorphic processors, which, according to the authors, “can take on different biological functions of neurons and synapses.”

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