Even as the power of our modern computers grows exponentially, biological systems — like our brains — remain the ultimate learning machines. By finding materials that act in ways similar to the mechanisms that biology uses to retain and process information, scientists hope to find clues to help us build smarter computers.
Inspired by human forgetfulness — how our brains discard unnecessary data to make room for new information — scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory and three universities, conducted a recent study that combined supercomputer simulation and X-ray characterization of a material that gradually “forgets.” This could one day be used for advanced bio-inspired computing.
“It’s hard to create a non-living material that shows a pattern resembling a kind of forgetfulness, but the specific material we were working with can actually mimic that kind of behavior.” – Subramanian Sankaranarayanan, Argonne nanoscientist and study author.
“The brain has limited capacity, and it can only function efficiently because it is able to forget,” said Subramanian Sankaranarayanan, an Argonne nanoscientist and study author. “It’s hard to create a non-living material that shows a pattern resembling a kind of forgetfulness, but the specific material we were working with can actually mimic that kind of behavior.”
The material, called a quantum perovskite, offers researchers a simpler non-biological model of what “forgetfulness” might look like on an electronic level. The perovskite shows an adaptive response when protons are repeatedly inserted and removed that resembles the brain’s desensitization to a recurring stimulus.
Quantum simulations performed at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, probed the origin of this adaptive response. “When scientists add or remove a proton (H+) from the perovskite (SmNiO3 (SNO)) lattice, the material’s atomic structure expands or contracts dramatically to accommodate it in a process called ‘lattice breathing,’” said Badri Narayanan, an Argonne assistant material scientist and co-author of the study. But when this happens over and over again, the material’s behavior evolves such that the lattice breathing is reduced — the proton “threat” no longer causes the material to hyperventilate. “The material’s electronic properties also evolve with this process,” said Narayanan.
“Eventually, it becomes harder to make the perovskite ‘care’ if we are adding or removing a proton,” said Hua Zhou, a physicist involved in characterizing the behavior of the material using X-rays provided by Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source (APS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. “It’s like when you get very scared on a water slide the first time you go down, but each time after that you have less and less of a reaction.”
As the material responds to protons that scientists add and subtract, its ability to resist an electrical current can be severely affected. This behavior allows the material to be effectively programmed, like a computer, by the proton doping. Essentially, a scientist could insert or remove protons to control whether or not the perovskite would allow a current.
Researchers have recently pushed to develop non-silicon-based materials, like perovskites, for computing because silicon struggles to use energy as efficiently. Scientists may use perovskites in learning machines down the line. But scientists can also take advantage of perovskite properties by using them as the basis for computational models of more complex biological learning systems.
“These simulations, which quite closely match the experimental results, are inspiring whole new algorithms to train neural networks to learn,” said Mathew Cherukara, an Argonne postdoctoral scholar at the APS.
The perovskite material and the resulting neural network algorithms could help develop more efficient artificial intelligence capable of facial recognition, reasoning and human-like decision making. Scientists are continuing the research to discover other materials with these brain-like properties and new ways to program these materials.
Finally, unlike silicon, whose properties can be reliably described using simple computer models, understanding the perovskite material requires computationally intensive simulations to capture how its atomistic and electronic structure reacts to proton doping.
“A classical framework doesn’t apply to these complex systems,” said Sankaranarayanan who, along with Narayanan and Cherukara, modeled the perovskite’s behavior at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, and the ALCF. “Quantum effects dominate, so it takes very computationally demanding simulations to show how the proton moves in and out of the perovskite structure.”
The Latest on: Bio-inspired computing
- Proceedings of the International Conference on Imaging, Signal Processing and Communication on October 23, 2017 at 12:50 am
Edge cloud computing is an emerging ... The emerging research work in human activity recognition is required for smart environment especially in health and home applications. This paper proposed a bio-inspired human visual system model to extract motion ... […]
- WSU, UW and PNNL: Rival schools make for good partners on October 21, 2017 at 3:31 pm
as well as bio-inspired, protein-like molecules for water purification. Students from several disciplines have had the opportunity to combine their expertise in synthesis and simulation with PNNL’s advanced microscopy and high-performance computing to do ... […]
- Camera Design Mimics One of Nature's Most Sophisticated Visual Systems on October 16, 2017 at 10:02 pm
Illinois electrical and computer engineering professor Viktor Gruev ... A new study finds that the bio-inspired imager may provide new understanding of underwater phenomena. Courtesy of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. […]
- Building smarter computers based on biology on October 16, 2017 at 1:54 am
This material has the potential to be used for future bio-inspired computing. The biological basis is habituation, which is regarded as one of the primary universal learning mechanisms. This is defined as how an organism responds to repeated stimuli from ... […]
- Working with Smart Materials to Make Prosthetic Limbs More Lifelike on October 12, 2017 at 9:10 am
Quote: "The project involves bio-inspired design, fabricating the device and developing a mechanism to control movement of prosthetic hands, using a material which can be activated by an electrical voltage." UH engineer receives NSF CAREER Award to pursue ... […]
- A material that gradually 'forgets' on October 11, 2017 at 2:03 am
This could one day be used for advanced bio-inspired computing. “The brain has limited capacity, and it can only function efficiently because it is able to forget,” said Subramanian Sankaranarayanan, an Argonne nanoscientist and study author. […]
- Forget About It on October 10, 2017 at 7:53 am
This could one day be used for advanced bio-inspired computing. “It’s hard to create a non-living material that shows a pattern resembling a kind of forgetfulness, but the specific material we were working with can actually mimic that kind of behavior.&rdquo […]
- Forget about it: A material that mimics the brain on October 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm
This could one day be used for advanced bio-inspired computing. Even as the power of our modern computers grows exponentially, biological systems -- like our brains -- remain the ultimate learning machines. By finding materials that act in ways similar to ... […]
- Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Device can Detect Below-Threshold Signals Via Noise on September 26, 2017 at 8:15 am
CREDIT: Megumi Akai-Kasaya But, what if there were a means to making use of this effect to improve signal transmission for a new generation of devices, such as bio-inspired sensors and computing processors whose design is based on the neural system of the ... […]
- Bio-inspired computer model that can design street layouts on February 26, 2015 at 6:30 am
Researchers at the Planning and Transport Research Centre (PATREC) at The University of Western Australia have created a biologically inspired computer model that can autonomously design urban residential layouts without human assistance. According to ... […]
via Google News and Bing News