Researchers at Stanford University and Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California have created an “artificial synapse” that can be used to create flexible circuitry that could directly interface with the brain and perform computations using far less power than current silicon systems consume.

This organic transistor, otherwise known as an electrochemical neuromorphic organic device (ENODe), contains two layers of the polymer separated by an electrolyte that permits ions to cross, and omits electrons. A voltage pulse applied to the top layer of the device alters the level of oxidation in the bottom layer, affecting the conduction of electricity between the source and drain.

Working much like a battery, two thin polymer films are separated by an electrolyte that allows protons to pass through but not electrons. Current flows between three terminals, two on the top layer and one on the bottom. A voltage pulse at the upper terminal causes charges to flow through the electrolyte either in or out of the lower film. This results in a change in the oxidation level which determines how much the film resists the flow of current through it.

Unlike other artificial synapses, the ENODe doesn’t require a high amount of energy to switch from one state to another. The ENODe is unique as the barrier that maintains the state of the device is unrelated to the one that governs switching. As a result, the device can be designed with very little voltage needed to switch, yet still retain the resulting state for a long time.

With the ability to exhibit more than 500 different states of conductivity within about a 1 V range, using a switching voltage of roughly 0.5 millivolts between adjacent states. The device still uses about 10,000 times as much energy as a biological synapse would, but minimizing the size of the device is expected to help lower voltage rates. With this, and several other electronic properties that make it optimal for brain-mimicking neuromorphic computing chips, it opens up a possibility of interfacing live biological cells [with circuits] that can do computing via artificial synapses.

New medical developments, such as the electrochemical neuromorphic organic device (ENODe), are just one example of the types of innovative technology that Eclipse Automation takes an interest in. Eclipse’s current working knowledge of life sciences and electronic device trends enables the company to provide clients with higher quality, more complete turn-key solutions. As a top equipment manufacturer, Eclipse specializes in medical device assembly, dispensing systems, clean room environments, and inspection applications that help to improve the quality, productivity and safety of your projects.

Source: IEEE Spectrum