Skynet going live soon? – Brain-like functions emerging in a metallic nanowire network

 
 
© NIMS

(National Institute of Material Science, Japan) An international joint research team led by NIMS succeeded in fabricating a neuromorphic network composed of numerous metallic nanowires. Using this network, the team was able to generate electrical characteristics similar to those associated with higher-order brain functions unique to humans, such as memorization, learning, forgetting, becoming alert, and returning to calm. The team then clarified the mechanisms that induced these electrical characteristics.

(“Emergent dynamics of neuromorphic nanowire networks” Adrian Diaz-Alvarez, Rintaro Higuchi, Paula Sanz-Leon, Ido Marcus, Yoshitaka Shingaya, Adam Z. Stieg, James K. Gimzewski, Zdenka Kuncic, and Tomonobu Nakayama; Journal: Scientific Reports [October 17, 2019];

Abstract

Neuromorphic networks are formed by random self-assembly of silver nanowires. Silver nanowires are coated with a polymer layer after synthesis in which junctions between two nanowires act as resistive switches, often compared with neurosynapses. We analyze the role of single junction switching in the dynamical properties of the neuromorphic network. Network transitions to a high-conductance state under the application of a voltage bias higher than a threshold value. The stability and permanence of this state is studied by shifting the voltage bias in order to activate or deactivate the network. A model of the electrical network with atomic switches reproduces the relation between individual nanowire junctions switching events with current pathway formation or destruction.

This relation is further manifested in changes in 1/f power-law scaling of the spectral distribution of current. The current fluctuations involved in this scaling shift are considered to arise from an essential equilibrium between formation, stochastic-mediated breakdown of individual nanowire-nanowire junctions and the onset of different current pathways that optimize power dissipation. This emergent dynamics shown by polymer-coated Ag nanowire networks places this system in the class of optimal transport networks, from which new fundamental parallels with neural dynamics and natural computing problem-solving can be drawn.

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