Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Home > Press > SUTD researchers develop ultra-scalable artificial synapse

Brain-inspired device used for integrating both silent and functional synapses

Brain-inspired device used for integrating both silent and functional synapses CREDIT SUTD

A research team, led by Assistant Professor Desmond Loke from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), has developed a new type of artificial synapse based on two-dimensional (2D) materials for highly scalable brain-inspired computing.

SUTD researchers develop ultra-scalable artificial synapse

Singapore | Posted on December 24th, 2021

Brain-inspired computing, which mimics how the human brain functions, has drawn significant scientific attention because of its uses in artificial intelligence functions and low energy consumption. For brain-inspired computing to work, synapses remembering the connections between two neurons are necessary, like human brains. In developing brains, synapses can be grouped into functional synapses and silent synapses. For functional synapses, the synapses are active, while for silent synapses, the synapses are inactive under normal conditions. And, when silent synapses are activated, they can help to optimize the connections between neurons. However, as artificial synapses built on digital circuits typically occupy large spaces, there are usually limitations in terms of hardware efficiency and costs. As the human brain contains about a hundred trillion synapses, it is necessary to improve the hardware cost in order to apply it to smart portable devices and internet-of things (IoTs).

To tackle this issue, the SUTD research team mimicked behaviors of functional and silent synapses using 2D materials. Additionally, this artificial synapse demonstrates for the first time that it can be implemented with the same device that functions as both functional and silent synapses.

Assistant Prof Loke mentioned that this work can dramatically reduce the hardware costs by replacing functional and silent synapses that were based on complex digital circuits with a single device. “We have demonstrated that functional and silent synapses can be implemented using a single device.”

“By integrating functional and silent synapses into the same device using ultrathin 2D materials, the hardware cost of artificial synapses will significantly decrease, which will drive the commercialization of brain-inspired hardware.” added Assistant Prof Loke.

From the viewpoint of neurobiology, silent synapses would not generate excitatory behavior when presynaptic neurons receive continuous stimuli because they contain N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, but they lack the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic-acid (AMPA) receptors. However, silent synapses can be activated to become functional synapses that respond to stimulations upon the insertion of AMPA receptors after consecutive stimulations. Inspired by the biological mechanism for silent synapse activation through the insertion of AMPA receptors, transformations from silent synapses to functional synapses in devices can be achieved by introducing sulphur anions in 2D indium selenide material systems. The sulphur anions in indium selenide can migrate under an electric field and exhibit functional synaptic plasticity. This device, based on a fully sulfurized type of system, show obvious memristive behavior at room temperature, which can be used to implement functional synapses. The activation of silent synapses can be demonstrated using a partially sulfurized type of system by modifying the temperature.

This research was published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. The research team include Song Hao, Khin Yin Pang, Nan Wang, Huimin Li, Yu Jiang, Kian-Guan Lim and Tow-Chong Chong from SUTD, and Shuai Zhong, Xinglong Ji and Rong Zhao from Tsinghua University.


For more information, please click here

Melissa Koh
Singapore University of Technology and Design

Office: 65-649-98742

Copyright © Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links


Related News Press

2 Dimensional Materials

Researchers detect two-dimensional kagome surface states January 7th, 2022

Researchers uncover the mechanism of electric field detection in microscale graphene sensors December 24th, 2021

Two-dimensional bipolar magnetic semiconductors with high Curie-temperature and electrically controllable spin polarization realized in exfoliated Cr(pyrazine)2 monolayers December 3rd, 2021

Developing high-performance MXene electrodes for next-generation powerful battery November 19th, 2021


Towards high-performance organic optoelectronics with better crystallinity at semiconductor interface: Organic molecular interfaces with minimized structural mismatch and spontaneous electron transfer could open doors to high-efficiency optoelectronics January 14th, 2022

Bioengineered nanoparticles show promise for fibrinogen manufacture, says Journal of Pharmaceutical Analysis study: Scientists engineer a nanoparticle polymer that can selectively bind to fibrinogen in human plasma, presenting a pathway for improved drug development January 14th, 2022

UT Southwestern develops nanotherapeutic to ward off liver cancer January 14th, 2022

The free-energy principle explains the brain January 14th, 2022


Nanostructures get complex with electron equivalents: Nanoparticles of two different sizes break away from symmetrical designs January 14th, 2022

New photonic effect could speed drug development: Twisted semiconductor nanostructures convert red light into the twisted blue light in tiny volumes, which may help develop chiral drugs January 14th, 2022

UT Southwestern develops nanotherapeutic to ward off liver cancer January 14th, 2022

The free-energy principle explains the brain January 14th, 2022

Artificial Intelligence

The free-energy principle explains the brain January 14th, 2022

AI models microprocessor performance in real-time: New algorithm predicts processor power consumption trillions of times per second while requiring little power or circuitry of its own December 10th, 2021

DeepMind simulates matter on the nanoscale with AI December 10th, 2021

Quantum Physics in Proteins: Artificial intelligence affords unprecedented insights into how biomolecules work November 5th, 2021

The latest news from around the world, FREE

  Premium Products
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More

Nanotechnology Now Featured Books


The Hunger Project