The UAB develops a material that mimics how the human brain stores information

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  • Matter makes it possible to mimic for the first time the learning that occurs during deep sleep

  • It could represent a paradigm shift in alternative computing to current computers

The UAB develops a material that mimics how the human brain stores information

An investigation led by the Physics Departmentfrom the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) has developed a magnetic material capable of imitating the way in which the brain stores information. The investigation, in collaboration with the Sinchrotr? ALBA, the Institut Català of Nanociència i Nanotecnologia and the Institute of Science of Materials of Barcelona (ICMAB), has made it possible to emulate communication between neurons and, for the first time, imitate the learning that occurs during deep sleep. The research has been published in the journal 'Materials Horizons' and has been led by the researchers Jordi Sort, also a researcher at the Institution of Materials Horizons. Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), and Enric Menéndez, reading professor of the 'Serra Hunter Program'.

This new material is based on a thin layer of cobalt mononitride, to which an electric field is applied to control the accumulation of ions between the layer and a liquid electrolyte. liquid. This artificial connection may be the basis of a new alternative computing paradigm to current computers, according to the researchers themselves.

The authors of this finding have achieved unprecedented control over the evolution of magnetization in a material. By applying voltage pulses, it has been possible to emulate processes such as memory, process and retrieve information and, for the first time, controlled update of information without applied voltage. This control has been achieved by modifying the thickness of the cobalt mononitride layers, which determine the speed of the ions, and the frequency of the pulses.

The researchers highlight that the disposition of the material allows to control the magneto-ionic properties not only in applying the voltage, but also in stopping applying it, something that had not been achieved until now. Once the external stimulus of the voltage disappears, the magnetization of the system can be reduced or increased depending on the thickness of the material and the protocol of how the voltage has been previously applied.

This new effect, hitherto never before observed, opens up a wide range of opportunities for new neuromorphic computing functions, as the authors say. It offers a new logic function that allows, for example, the possibility of mimicking the neural learning that occurs after stimulation of the brain, which occurs when we sleep soundly. This functionality cannot be emulated by any other existing neuromorphic material.

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