Organic transistor mimics brain synapse

Researchers in France claim to have made the first transistor that mimics connections in the human brain.

The device, which is based on pentacene and gold nanoparticles, could lead to a new generation of neuro-inspired computers as well as help connect artificial structures to biological tissue.

The team, which includes scientists from the CNRS (the French National Science Agency) and CEA (the French Atomic Energy Commission), began by adding gold nanoparticles to the interface between an insulating layer (gate dielectric) and an organic transistor made of pentacene. They fixed the nanoparticles, which were 5, 10 and 20 nm in diameter, into the source-drain channel of the device using surface chemistry techniques and finished the structure by covering it with a 35 nm thick film of pentacene. The resulting device is called a nanoparticle organic memory field-effect transistor or “NOMFET”.

The technique could be used build nanoscale devices for neuro-inspired computers, he added. “The human brain contains more synapses than neurons by a factor of 10^4 so we need to develop nanoscale, low-power, synapse-like devices if we want to scale neuromorphic circuits to the brain level.”

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