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Artificial synapses 10.000 times faster than biological synapses

A team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a resistor that is a natural one brain synapse which, according to the authors, is a thousand times smaller and ten thousand times faster than its biological counterpart. The researchers described their approach, particularly the idea, when designing artificial neural networks Balancing memory persistence and processing speed, in a publication in Science.

They designed an element whose conductivity was determined by the introduction or removal of Protons into a phosphosilicate glass (PSG) channel. In a way, this mimics the behavior of biological synapses that ions for transmitting signals across the gap between two Neurons use. The device is equipped with three connectors, two of which are the input and the output of the Synapse represent, while the third serves to apply an electric field that excites protons to move from the reservoir to the PSG channel or vice versa, depending on the direction of the electric field. More protons in the channel increase its resistance.

 Image Source: Pixabay ; Science

Researchers developed the design principles for this circuit back in 2020, but their earlier prototypes used materials that were not compatible with integrated circuit development processes. The switch to PSG has the switching speed increased dramatically as the nanopores in the structure allow the protons to move through the material very quickly. In addition, it can withstand very strong electric field pulses without suffering damage. Voltages of up to 10 volts give protons a huge boost in speed and are key to the performance advantage over them biological synapses.