Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Artificial synapses made from nanowires

06.12.2018

Scientists from Jülich together with colleagues from Aachen and Turin have produced a memristive element made from nanowires that functions in much the same way as a biological nerve cell. The component is able to both save and process information, as well as receive numerous signals in parallel. The resistive switching cell made from oxide crystal nanowires is thus proving to be the ideal candidate for use in building bioinspired "neuromorphic" processors, able to take over the diverse functions of biological synapses and neurons.

Computers have learned a lot in recent years. Thanks to rapid progress in artificial intelligence they are now able to drive cars, translate texts, defeat world champions at chess, and much more besides.


Image captured by an electron microscope of a single nanowire memristor (highlighted in colour to distinguish it from other nanowires in the background image). Blue: silver electrode, orange: nanowire, yellow: platinum electrode. Blue bubbles are dispersed over the nanowire. They are made up of silver ions and form a bridge between the electrodes which increases the resistance.

Credit: Forschungszentrum Jülich

In doing so, one of the greatest challenges lies in the attempt to artificially reproduce the signal processing in the human brain. In neural networks, data are stored and processed to a high degree in parallel.

Traditional computers on the other hand rapidly work through tasks in succession and clearly distinguish between the storing and processing of information. As a rule, neural networks can only be simulated in a very cumbersome and inefficient way using conventional hardware.

Systems with neuromorphic chips that imitate the way the human brain works offer significant advantages. Experts in the field describe this type of bioinspired computer as being able to work in a decentralised way, having at its disposal a multitude of processors, which, like neurons in the brain, are connected to each other by networks.

If a processor breaks down, another can take over its function. What is more, just like in the brain, where practice leads to improved signal transfer, a bioinspired processor should have the capacity to learn.

"With today's semiconductor technology, these functions are to some extent already achievable. These systems are however suitable for particular applications and require a lot of space and energy," says Dr. Ilia Valov from Forschungszentrum Jülich.

"Our nanowire devices made from zinc oxide crystals can inherently process and even store information, as well as being extremely small and energy efficient," explains the researcher from Jülich's Peter Grünberg Institute.

For years memristive cells have been ascribed the best chances of being capable of taking over the function of neurons and synapses in bioinspired computers. They alter their electrical resistance depending on the intensity and direction of the electric current flowing through them. In contrast to conventional transistors, their last resistance value remains intact even when the electric current is switched off. Memristors are thus fundamentally capable of learning.

In order to create these properties, scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich and RWTH Aachen University used a single zinc oxide nanowire, produced by their colleagues from the polytechnic university in Turin.

Measuring approximately one ten-thousandth of a millimeter in size, this type of nanowire is over a thousand times thinner than a human hair. The resulting memristive component not only takes up a tiny amount of space, but also is able to switch much faster than flash memory.

Nanowires offer promising novel physical properties compared to other solids and are used among other things in the development of new types of solar cells, sensors, batteries and computer chips. Their manufacture is comparatively simple. Nanowires result from the evaporation deposition of specified materials onto a suitable substrate, where they practically grow of their own accord.

In order to create a functioning cell, both ends of the nanowire must be attached to suitable metals, in this case platinum and silver. The metals function as electrodes, and in addition, release ions triggered by an appropriate electric current. The metal ions are able to spread over the surface of the wire and build a bridge to alter its conductivity.

Components made from single nanowires are, however, still too isolated to be of practical use in chips. Consequently, the next step being planned by the Jülich and Turin researchers is to produce and study a memristive element, composed of a larger, relatively easy to generate group of several hundred nanowires offering more exciting functionalities.

Media Contact

Angela Wenzik
a.wenzik@fz-juelich.de
49-246-161-6048

 @fz_juelich

http://www.fz-juelich.de 

Angela Wenzik | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: human brain nanowire networks neural networks neurons signal processing zinc

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Substitute for rare earth metal oxides
05.12.2018 | Universität Stuttgart

nachricht To detect new odors, fruit fly brains improve on a well-known computer algorithm
04.12.2018 | Salk Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

Im Focus: A golden age for particle analysis

Process engineers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have developed a method which allows the size and shape of nanoparticles in dispersions to be determined considerably quicker than ever before. Based on gold nanorods, they demonstrated how length and diameter distributions can be measured accurately in just one step instead of the complicated series of electron microscopic images which have been needed up until now. Nanoparticles from precious metals are used, for example, as catalysts and contrast agents for diagnosing cancer. The results have been published in the renowned journal Nature Communications (doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07366-9).

Even in the Middle Ages, gold particles were used to create vibrant red and blue colours, for example to illustrate biblical scenes in stained glass windows....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

Inaugural "Virtual World Tour" scheduled for december

28.11.2018 | Event News

Top-class programme at the ROS-Industrial Conference 2018

23.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Three components on one chip

06.12.2018 | Information Technology

Scientists enter unexplored territory in superconductivity search

06.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

Why Tehran Is Sinking Dangerously

06.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>