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Artificially Altered Material Could Accelerate Neuromorphic Device Development

Using quantum Monte Carlo methods, the researchers simulated bulk vanadium oxide. Yellow and turquoise represent changes in electron density between the excited and ground states of a compound composed of oxygen, in red, and vanadium, in blue, which allow

Credit: Panchapakesan Ganesh/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

euromorphic devices — which emulate the decision-making processes of the human brain — show great promise for solving pressing scientific problems, but building physical systems to realize this potential presents researchers with a significant challenge. An international team has gained additional insights into a material compound called vanadium oxide, or VO2, that might be the missing ingredient needed to complete a reliable neuromorphic recipe.

VO2, which belongs to a class of materials known as correlated solid oxides, must undergo a reversible transformation from its insulating form to a metallic form to become a practical candidate for this purpose. And although atomic imperfections called point defects are capable of optimizing materials for technological applications, the specific effects of such alterations, which are needed to enhance the compound's functional qualities, were previously unknown.

Motivated by this knowledge gap, researchers from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories, Tampere University and the University of Hamburg applied complementary many-body theoretical methods at multiple computing facilities to obtain new insights into VO2's interactions with different types of point defects. The researchers created the most complete picture of this complex compound's transformation to date and their findings are published in Physical Review B.

From Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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