Researchers from the Politecnico di Milano, Empa and ETH Zurich have developed a electronic component called memristor, which is not like the others. Why? It is inspired by the functioning of the brain. The research results were published in the journal Science Advances (I link them to you here).
Compute as you think (and vice versa)
The newly developed memristor is based on nanocrystals of perovskite halogenated, a semiconductor material known for the production of solar cells.
Why is it special? Simple. Most people, as you know, cannot do mathematical calculations with computer accuracy. On the other hand, the human brain is able to easily process complex sensory information and learn from experiences: something that no computer can yet do.
To do this, among other things, the human brain consumes only half the energy of a laptop thanks to its structure in the synapses, each of which is a sort of biological memristor capable of storing and processing information.
A memristor to make computers evolve (without upsetting them)
"Our goal is not to replace classical computer architecture." He says Daniel Ielmini, professor at the Milan Polytechnic. 'Rather, we want to develop alternative architectures that perform certain tasks faster with less energy expenditure.'
Something that would be useful in practically all fields of human knowledge, from agriculture to space exploration. However, curb enthusiasm: work is still needed.
The challenges to face
The technology isn't ready for use yet, and simply manufacturing a memristor doesn't allow for integration with today's computer chips. In fact, perovskites cannot handle the temperatures of 400-500 °C necessary for the processing of silicon - at least not yet.
In the coming months, however, the scientists will evaluate materials with similar properties that could be considered for the production of a high-performance memristor.
“We can test the results of our memristor system with different materials as well,” he says Alexander Milozzi, PhD student at the Politecnico di Milano. "Probably some of them are better suited for integration with silicon."
Already. Who knows that one day, with the right materials, computers won't be able to process information like the human brain. And without consuming too much.