ICs and Microelectronics

Breakthrough in Microchips that Mimic the Human Brain Developed

27 September 2017

Using light instead of electricity to generate brain-like computer chips. Source: University of Exeter Using light instead of electricity to generate brain-like computer chips. Source: University of Exeter Researchers at the University of Exeter and Oxford University have taken steps toward unlocking microchips that can mimic the way a human brain works to store and process information.

The photonic computer chips use light rather than electricity to imitate the way the brain’s synapses operate. The development combines phase-change materials, found commonly in household items such as re-writeable optical discs, with specially designed integrated photonic circuits to deliver a biological-like synaptic response.

Researchers believe the breakthrough could pave the way for a new age of computing where machines work and think in a similar way to the human brain while at the same time exploiting the speed and efficiency of photonic systems.

"The development of computers that work more like the human brain has been a holy grail of scientists for decades,” says Harish Bhaskaran, professor from Oxford University. “Via a network of neurons and synapses the brain can process and store vast amounts of information simultaneously, using only a few tens of watts of power. Conventional computers can't come close to this sort of performance."

Because synapses outnumber neurons in the brain by about 10,000 to 1, any brain-like computer needs to replicate that form of synaptic mimic. Researchers say this is what they have developed with not only brain-like computer architectures but also a chip that leverages the speed and power advantages of silicon photonics.

The full research can be found in the journal Science Advances.

To contact the author of this article, email peter.brown@ieeeglobalspec.com


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Discussion – 1 comment

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Re: Breakthrough in Microchips that Mimic the Human Brain Developed
#1
2017-Oct-12 11:06 AM

Be sure to add more as this program develops.

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