Study unlocks map-forming method for utilization of neural interfaces, other brain-mimicking tech

A recent study by researchers at Tohoku University and the University of Cambridge sheds light on ways to utilize organic electrochemical transistors (OECT) in the application of neuromorphic devices. These devices are valuable electronic tools that are capable of mimicking neural cells in our brains.  

For researchers, the world of neuromorphic devices is one they have had to travel without maps. The use of these devices would inform scientific studies and allow researchers to explore new fields and develop potentially life-saving devices. 

One potential device application is in the field of brain-like computers. Along with many other benefits, these computers are able to mimic actions and behaviors of the human mind without using substantial amounts of energy. However, the device operation mechanism is yet to be understood, especially in terms of controlling its response speed control. 

In an effort to unveil new information about these devices and their applications, researchers looked at OECT, a kind of transistor often applied in neuromorphic devices to control ion movements in the active layer. Analysis of their results showed that timescale of responses varies based on size of the ion in the electrolyte. 

These results led researchers to model neuromorphic responses of the devices. Data collected in their study demonstrated that ion movements in the OECT controlled the response, indicating that calibrating the timescale for movements of the ions can effectively regulate neuromorphic behavior of OECTs.  

“We obtained a map that provides rational design guidelines for neuromorphic devices through changing ion size and material composition in the active layer,” explains Shunsuke Yamamoto, the paper’s corresponding author and assistant professor at Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Engineering, in a statement. “Further studies will pave the way for application to artificial neural networks and lead to better and more precise designs of the conducting polymer materials used in this field.”

This study is published in Advanced Electronic Materials.

Article written by Anna Landry

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