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Researchers mimic brain with atomic switches

Editorial
article image This device will incorporate structural aspects inspired by the human brain, in order to operate in a cognitive manner.

RESEARCHERS in the US and Japan have mimicked the self-organised network of synapses of the brain on a microchip.

The mammalian brain is generally recognised to be well-suited for tasks such as recognising sounds or object, reading handwriting, and predicting things based on memory and environmental clues.

Electronics and organic brains have very different physical structures and operating mechanisms. Computer microprocessors are able to quickly perform simple, error-free calculations in a sequential fashion and store data in physically separate memory banks, but the brain has a vast network of neurons serving simultaneously as both information processors and memory units.

Researchers at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA) at the National Institute for Materials Science, Japan are developing a neuromorphic device.

This device will incorporate structural aspects inspired by the human brain, in order to operate in a cognitive manner.

The device is based on the atomic switch, which is a recently developed nanoscale circuit element. The atomic switch has synapse-like properties, even though it is purely an inorganic device.

Using a nanoarchitectonic approach, millions of atomic switch elements are incorporated into a densely interconnected network of silver nanowires. These atomic switch networks (ASN) retain the synaptic properties of their individual component elements and behave based on their distributed, collective interactions. These behaviours are a principal characteristic of biological neural networks and many other complex systems.

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