Big racks? Pah. Storage boffins have made a BIONIC BRAIN material

And you'll never guess what happens when you hit it

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Research boffins at RMIT university in Melbourne have demonstrated a non-volatile memory at nanometer scale using memristive effects – and suggest it could help build a bionic brain.

The team, led by Dr Sharath Sriram, built a stacked structure using perovskite oxide with designed-in defects in its chemistry to demonstrate a memristive effect, where the resistive state of a 60nm pathway in the material stays constant after an event.

Memristors, the lauded fourth electrical circuit after the capacitor, resistor, and inductor, have been worked on for an age by HP. The technology always seems to stay at the far side of the what’s-practicable edge, with the technology tantalising the HP Labs engineers but never getting turned into a real-world product. The latest scheduled instantiation is in HP’s coming Machine project, along with Silicon Photonics.

HP execs say Memristor DIMMs will appear in 2016, with The Machine appearing around 2020.

The memristive effects seen by the Oz boffinry is being bigged up, who say their technology could be the basis for the next generation of non-volatile memory.

The RMIT press release says memristors “offer building blocks for computing that could be trained to mimic synaptic interfaces in the human brain.”

Dr Sriram is quoted as saying: “The structure we developed could be used for a range of electronic applications - from ultrafast memory devices that can be shrunk down to a few nanometers, to computer logic architectures that replicate the versatility and response time of a biological neural network.”

“While more investigation needs to be done,” continues Dr Sriram, “our work advances the search for next generation memory technology [that] can replicate the complex functions of human neural system - bringing us one step closer to the bionic brain."

The team's work shows that their material's behaviour responds to pressure, leading to possibilities in the sensor and actuator fields. The abstract of their paper concludes “these results highlight the promise of amorphous perovskite memristors for high performance CMOS/CMOL compatible memristive systems.”

That seems more realistic in today’s Internet of Things era than bionic brain boffinry.

The Oz researchers have authored a paper which gets the coveted cover spot on the November 11 issue of Advanced Functional Materials, a materials science journal. The details of their paper will only be revealed in that issue. ®


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