The OXYNAPSE project aims to develop functionality in inorganic oxides to mimic the fast, energy-conserving and highly flexible human brain. Ferroelectric domain walls will be developed as artificial synapses which can act as enabling building blocks for neuromorphic circuitry. Biological learning will be replicated by training domain walls with electrical stimuli, emulating the transfer of electrical signals between neurons in the brain. Domain walls can in principle be made smaller and faster, and potentially more energy-efficient, than biological synapses. With the ever-increasing demand for computing, the energy-consumption form computers, portable electronics and the internet increases at a rate which soon will become unsustainable. To impede global warming, it is essential to limit our global energy consumption, and a paradigm shift is needed for more energy-efficient computer architecture and neuromorphic circuitry is among the most promising vistas of opportunity. Domain walls have advantages compared to traditional concepts for artificial synapses by being movable, erasable and rewritable. In contrast with traditional semiconductors, the properties of transition metal oxides can be tuned by exchanging oxygen with the surrounding atmosphere, in principle allowing reconfiguration of circuitry and devices even after fabrication. The project is divided between computational predictions from density functional theory (DFT) calculations and experimental studies, mainly by scanning probe microscopy. DFT is the ideal theoretical microscope, with higher resolution in energy and space than experiments, while SPM and TEM are the state-of-the-art experimental methods for measuring nanoscale properties. In this interdisciplinary project, the principles of defect chemistry are united with the physics of domain walls to develop circuit elements for neuromorphic computing.
Project leader: Sverre Magnus Selbach
Institution: Institutt for materialteknologi