Photo - Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm

With the introduction of a new component material, researchers at Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden (KTH) take another step toward computers that mimic the human brain as announced in a press release.

Researchers from KTH and from Stanford University have fabricated a material for components that enable the commercial viability of computers that mimic the human brain.

Electrochemical random access (ECRAM) memory components made with 2D titanium carbide showed outstanding potential for complementing classical transistor technology and contributing toward the commercialization of powerful computers that are modeled after the brain’s neural network. Such neuromorphic computers can be thousands of times more energy-efficient than today’s computers.

Synaptic cell

These advances in computing are possible because of some fundamental differences from the classic computing architecture in use today, and the ECRAM, a component that acts as a sort of synaptic cell in an artificial neural network, says KTH Associate Professor Max Hamedi.

“Instead of transistors that are either on or off, and the need for information to be carried back and forth between the processor and memory—these new computers rely on components that can have multiple states, and perform in-memory computation,” Hamedi says.

The scientists at KTH and Stanford have focused on testing better materials for building an ECRAM, a component in which switching occurs by inserting ions into an oxidation channel, in a sense similar to our brain which also works with ions. What has been needed to make these chips commercially viable are materials that overcome the slow kinetics of metal oxides and the poor temperature stability of plastics.  

The key material in the ECRAM units that the researchers fabricated is referred to as MXene—a two-dimensional (2D) compound, barely a few atoms thick, consisting of titanium carbide (Ti3C2Tx). The MXene combines the high speed of organic chemistry with the integration compatibility of inorganic materials in a single device operating at the nexus of electrochemistry and electronics, Hamedi says.

The findings were published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

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