Computing—Mimicking neurons

Computing—Mimicking neurons

Computing building blocks of soft materials may someday directly interface with the brain, according to researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee. Credit: Joseph Najem, Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept. of Energy
Computing building blocks of soft materials may someday directly interface with the brain, according to researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee. Credit: Joseph Najem, Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept. of Energy (hi-res image)

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Dawn Levy, Communications
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June 1, 2018 – A direct brain-to-computer interface may be on the horizon, thanks to synaptic mimics created by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee. Based on soft materials, the mimics are synthetic junctures that transmit electrical impulses like nerve cells do. The researchers relied on resources at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences to fabricate ultra-thin membranes and embed them with biomolecules that transport ions in response to voltage changes. The synaptic mimics process and store information in the same location, unlike conventional computers in which information is continually transferred between a central processing unit and memory, which consumes a lot of energy. “Through experiments and modelling, we were the first to demonstrate that our synaptic mimics, when configured in neuromorphic circuits, emulate key functions of real biological synapses, such as computing, learning and remembering,” said ORNL’s Patrick Collier. The work was published in the journal ACS Nano.

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