Using a simple self-forming technique, scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bengaluru, an autonomous institute of the Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology, developed a new approach for fabricating an artificial synaptic network (ASN) that resembles a biological neural network (the device structure is formed by itself while heating).
The JNCASR team looked into a material system that imitated neuronal bodies and axonal network connections, similar to the biological system, to fabricate a synaptic device for neuromorphic applications with a straightforward fabrication technique. They discovered that constructing such a structure via a self-forming mechanism was straightforward, scalable, and cost-effective.
The JNCASR team used dewetted Silver (Ag) metal to construct branched islands and nanoparticles with nanogap separations that looked like bio neurons and neurotransmitters in their research. Dewetting is the rupturing of a continuous film into isolated/disconnected islands or spherical particles. This design can be used to imitate a variety of higher-order cognitive functions.
A Silver (Ag) agglomerates network separated by nanogaps filled with isolated nanoparticles made up the created artificial synaptic network (ASN).
Using programmed electrical signals as a real-world stimulus, this hierarchical structure replicated a variety of learning activities, including short-term memory (STM), long-term memory (LTM), potentiation, depression, associative learning, interest-based learning, supervision, and so on. Excessive learning-induced synaptic depletion was also represented, as was subsequent self-recovery.
Interestingly, all of these behaviors were simulated in a single material system without the use of external CMOS circuits, according to the paper. A prototyping kit was created to mimic Pavlov’s dog behavior, demonstrating the device’s potential for neuromorphic artificial intelligence.
The JNCASR team has taken a step forward in developing enhanced neuromorphic artificial intelligence by structuring a nanomaterial that resembles the organic neural substance.
Through evolution, nature has had a tremendous amount of time and diversity to engineering ever new forms and functions. Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST remarked, “Learning and replicating new processes, technologies, materials, and devices from nature and biology are crucial avenues to future substantial achievements, which will increasingly merge the worlds of the living with man-made technologies.”