German researchers create artificial synapse from nanowire memristor
German scientists have built an artificial synapse from nanowires that is able to replicate functions of biological synapses.
The component, which was developed by a team at Forschungszentrum Jülich and RWTH Aachen Universities, has the ability to save and process information and receive numerous signals in parallel, making it suited to bio-inspired “neuromorphic” processors in neural networks used for AI applications.
Dr. Ilia Valov from Forschungszentrum Jülich, said: “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.
“Our nanowire devices made from zinc oxide crystals can inherently process and even store information, as well as being extremely small and energy efficient.”
The team used a single zinc oxide nanowire approximately one ten-thousandth of a millimetre in size to produce the memristor, an electronic component capable of changing how it reacts to input.
The nanowire was attached to silver electrode and platinum electrode at either end, which released ions triggered by an electric current. The metal ions spread over the surface of the wire and built a bridge to alter its connectivity.
Nanowires offer promising physical properties compared to other solids and are used in the development of new types of solar cells, sensors and computer chips.
The team of researchers is now planning to produce and study a memristive element composed of a larger, relatively easy to generate group of several hundred nanowires.