HomeTechnologyComputingUL study discovers ‘brain-like’ computing is possible at molecular level

UL study discovers ‘brain-like’ computing is possible at molecular level

The UL-led study involved the creation of a 2-nanometer thick layer of molecules – about 50,000 times thinner than a strand of hair.

Researchers at the University of Limerick (UL) have made a breakthrough in physics by discovering that ‘brain-like’ computing is possible at the atomic and molecular scales.

An international team led by UL professor of molecular modeling Damien Thompson was able to create a new type of organic material that learns from past behavior – much in the same way as synaptic behavior in our brains.

This discovery of the ‘dynamic molecular switch’ is based on the development of a 2 nanometer thick layer of molecules – which is about 50,000 times thinner than a strand of hair and which remembers its history as electrons pass through it.

Thompson explained that the “switch probability and on/off state values ​​are constantly changing in the molecular material, providing a disruptive new alternative to conventional silicon-based digital switches that can only be on or off.”

He collaborated with Christian Nijhuis of the Center for Molecules and Brain-Inspired Nano Systems at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and Enrique del Barco of the University of Central Florida.

“This has been a great lockdown project, with Chris, Enrique and I pushing each other through zoom meetings and giant email threads to bring our teams combined materials modeling, synthesis and characterization skills to the point where we could run these new brain-like computers. demonstrate. properties,” Thompson said of the study.

“The community has long known that silicon technology works completely differently from how our brains work, and so we’ve been using new types of electronic materials based on soft molecules to mimic brain-like computer networks.”

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It was published in the international magazine Natural materials today (Nov 21).

The newly discovered dynamic organic switch demonstrates all the mathematical logic functions required for deep learning, successfully mimicking Pavlovian “call and response” synaptic brain-like behavior.

Some applications of this breakthrough range from sustainable and green chemistry to the development of new organic materials for high-density computing and memory storage in large data centers.

“This is just the beginning,” added Thompson, who is also director of SSPC, the Science Foundation Ireland’s pharmaceuticals research center at UL.

“We are already expanding this next generation of intelligent molecular materials, which will enable the development of sustainable alternative technologies to address major energy, environmental and health challenges.”

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