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Stanford Engineers Build a Nanoscale Device For Brain-Inspired Computing

H.-S. Philip Wong

"This development could lead to electronic devices that are so small and so energy efficient that we might be able to make nanoelectronic versions of certain parts of the brain to study how they work," says H.-S. Philip Wong, a professor of electrical eng

Photo courtesy of Stanford University

Stanford University researchers have developed a nanoelectronic device that mimics human brain synapses, which they say could lead to portable, energy-efficient, adaptable, and interactive computer systems.

The researchers, led by professor H.-S. Phillip Wong, have been working in a field known as brain-inspired computing, which aims to simulate the human brain's functions in computer chips.

The Stanford researchers say they are the first to create a synaptic device that is small enough and with low enough energy consumption to have commercial viability. The device uses technology known as phase-change materials, which can change their physical characteristics when exposed to electricity. The Stanford team demonstrated an ability to control the synaptic device in 1 percent increments, meaning each phase-change synapse can convey at least 100 values.

The researchers say the new technology could lead to real-time brain simulations that could increase the understanding of neuroscience. "This work is a promising step forward in our ability to emulate brain functions using nanoelectronic devices and circuits," Wong says.

From Stanford Report
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc. External Link, Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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