Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

First Transistor That Mimics Brain Synapse

French researchers have created what they claim is the first transistor to mimic the connections in the human brain. It could lead to neurology-inspired computers, as well as provide a means for connecting artificial devices to existing biological tissue.


(Transistor diagram
Schematic diagram illustrating how the NOMFET (bottom)
mimics a synapse (top). In a synapse, voltage spikes
(blue triangles) are converted to a chemical signal (orange arrow),
which flows across a gap. Once across, the chemical stimulates
the creation of new voltage spikes.
(Courtesy: Dominique Vuillaume))

The team, which includes scientists from the CNRS (the French National Science Agency) and CEA (the French Atomic Energy Commission), began by adding gold nanoparticles to the interface between an insulating layer (gate dielectric) and an organic transistor made of pentacene. They fixed the nanoparticles, which were 5, 10 and 20 nm in diameter, into the source-drain channel of the device using surface chemistry techniques and finished the structure by covering it with a 35 nm thick film of pentacene. The resulting device is called a nanoparticle organic memory field-effect transistor or "NOMFET".

A biological synapse transforms a voltage spike (action potential) arriving from a pre-synaptic neuron into a discharge of chemical neurotransmitters that are then detected by a post-synaptic neuron. These are subsequently transformed into new spikes, leading to a succession of pulses that either become larger or diminish in size. This fundamental property of synaptic behaviour is known as short-term plasticity, which is related to a neural network's ability to learn. It is this plasticity that Vuillaume and colleagues have succeeded in mimicking.

In the NOMFET, the pre-synaptic signal is simply the pulse voltage applied to the device and the output signal is the drain current, explains Vuillaume. The holes the charge carriers in the p-type organic semiconductor employed are trapped in the nanoparticles and act like the neurotransmitters. A certain number of holes are trapped for each incoming spike voltage and in the absence of pulses, the holes escape in a matter of seconds

This time delay is carefully adjusted by the researchers by optimizing nanoparticle number and device geometry. "The output of the NOMFET is thus able to reproduce the deceasing or amplifying behaviour typical of a synapse depending on the frequency of spikes," said Vuillaume.

Science fiction fans recall that Isaac Asimov, in his short story Reason, wrote about a similar idea:

All that had been done in the mid 20th century on "calculating machines" had been upset by Robertson and his positronic brain paths. The miles of relays and photocells had given way to the spongy globe of platinum iridium about the size of the human brain. (Read more about the positronic brain)

A few years later, Philip K. Dick had fun with the idea of a Nexus-6 brain unit in his 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep:

The Nexus-6 did have two trillion constituents plus a choice within a range of ten million possible combinations of cerebral activity. In .45 of a second an android equipped with such a brain could assume any one of fourteen basic reaction-postures. Well, no intelligence test could trap such an andy. But then, intelligence tests hadn't trapped an andy in years, not since the primordial, crude varieties of the 1970's.

From Physics World via Next Big Future.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/1/2010)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Computer ")

Great. Now AIs Have Access To Hacking Tools
'... when you and the Flatline punch through that ice and scramble the cores.' - William Gibson, 1984.

Tongue-Controlled Tong Wearable Mouth Computer
'Griff found the white and pink map distracting and switched it off using his tongue mouse.' - Greg Bear, 2007.

Interpol Launches Metaverse For Law Enforcement
'CopSpace sheds some light on matters, of course. Blink and it descends in its full glory.' - Charles Stress, 2007.

AVATECT Prevents Spoofing Of Avatars
'Your physical appearance is a graphical encryption that the human mind is uniquely qualified to decode.' - Daniel Suarez, 2009.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Prophetic Offers Lucid Dreaming Halo With Morpheus-1 AI
''Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer...'

More Like A Tumblebug Than A Motorcycle
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'

Tesla Camera-Only Vision Predicted In 1930's SF
'By its means, the machine can see.'

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.'

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.'

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.'

AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
'...a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms.'

Let's Make Slaver Sunflowers! Engineering Plants To Reflect Light
'The mirror-blossom was a terrible weapon.'

TeslaBot Uber Driver (2024) And The Automatic Motorist (1911)
'Robots have worse problems than anybody'

DiffuseBot Uses Generative AI To Invent New Soft Robots
'It embodies several small-scale multiple stampers, apparently for dealing with sheet metal.'

Philips Smart Palm Recognition Smart Deadbolt
'A palm lock must be keyed to one individual's hand shape...'

BMind Smart Mirror from Baracoda
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the greatest wellness of all?

Ballie Your AI Robot Companion From Samsung
Projects your content anywhere you like.

Holobox? Who Doesn't Want A Home Hologram?
'...there appeared standing upon the disk, the image of a man...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.