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The brain is superior to traditional computers in many ways. Brain cells use less energy, process information faster and are more adaptable. The way that brain cells respond to a stimulus depends on the information that they have received, which potentiates or inhibits the neurons. Scientists are working on new types of devices which can mimic this behavior, called memristors.
UG researcher Anouk Goossens, the first author of the paper, tested memristors made from niobium-doped strontium titanate. The conductivity of the memristors is controlled by an electric field in an analog fashion: 'We use the system's ability to switch resistance: by applying voltage pulses, we can control the resistance, and using a low voltage we read out the current in different states. The strength of the pulse determines the resistance in the device. We have shown a resistance ratio of at least 1000 to be realizable. We then measured what happened over time.' Goossens was especially interested in the time dynamics of the resistance states.
Duration - Pulse - Resistance - 'memory - Hours
She observed that the duration of the pulse with which the resistance was set determined how long the 'memory' lasted. This could be between one to four hours for pulses lasting between a second and two minutes. Furthermore, she found that after 100 switching cycles, the material showed no signs of fatigue.
'There are different things you could do with this', says Goossens. 'By "teaching" the device in different ways, using different pulses,...
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