future timeline technology singularity humanity
 
   
future timeline twitter future timeline facebook group future timeline youtube channel account videos future timeline rss feed
 
     
     
 
       
 
 
 

28th September 2017

Brain-like photonic microchips developed

Researchers from Oxford, Münster and Exeter Universities have created photonic computer chips – that use light rather than electricity – to imitate the way a brain's synapses operate.

 

brain like photonic chips
A photonic synapse in a neuron network. Credit: Harish Bhaskaran

 

Scientists have made a crucial step towards unlocking the “holy grail” of computing – photonic microchips that mimic the way the human brain works to store and process information. The work, by researchers from Oxford, Münster and Exeter Universities, combined phase-change materials – found in common household items such as re-writable optical discs – with specially designed circuits, to deliver a biological-like synaptic response.

Crucially, their photonic synapses can operate at speeds 1,000 times faster than those of the human brain. The team believe that the research could pave the way for a new age of computing, where machines work and think in a similar way to the human brain, while at the same time exploiting the speed and power efficiency of photonic systems.

“The development of computers that work more like the human brain has been a holy grail of scientists for decades,” said Professor Harish Bhaskaran from Oxford University, who led the team. “Via a network of neurons and synapses, the brain can process and store vast amounts of information simultaneously, using only a few tens of Watts of power. Conventional computers can’t come close to this sort of performance.”

 

brain like photonic chips


Schematic of a photonic synapse mimicking the biological synapse connecting neurons. Credit: Harish Bhaskaran

 

Professor C David Wright, co-author from the University of Exeter, also explained: “Electronic computers are relatively slow, and the faster we make them the more power they consume. Conventional computers are also pretty ‘dumb’, with none of the in-built learning and parallel processing capabilities of the brain. We tackle both of these issues here – not only by developing new brain-like computer architectures, but also by working in the optical domain to leverage the huge speed and power advantages of the upcoming silicon photonics revolution.”

Professor Wolfram Pernice, a co-author of the paper from the University of Münster added: “Since synapses outnumber neurons in the brain by around 10,000 to 1, any brain-like computer needs to be able to replicate some form of synaptic mimic. That is what we have done here.”

A paper – On-chip photonic synapse – was published yesterday in Science Advances.

---

• Follow us on Twitter

• Follow us on Facebook

• Subscribe to us on YouTube

 

  speech bubble Comments »
 

 

 


 

comments powered by Disqus

 

« Previous Next »
 
     
   

 
     
 

Blogs

AI & Robotics Biology & Medicine Business & Politics Computers & the Internet
Energy & the Environment Home & Leisure Military & War Nanotechnology
Physics Society & Demographics Space Transport & Infrastructure

 

 

Archive

2015

 

2014

 

2013

 

2012

 

2011

 

2010

 

 
 
 
 

 


future timeline twitter future timeline facebook group future timeline youtube channel account videos future timeline rss feed

Privacy Policy