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IBM creates world’s first artificial phase-change neurons

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John Henderson
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IBM has already created a population of 500 of these artificial neurons and used them to process a signal in a brain-like neuromorphic way.

This breakthrough is particularly notable because the phase-change neurons are fashioned out of well-understood materials that can scale down to a few nanometres, and because they are capable of firing at high speed but with low energy requirements.

Also important is the neurons' stochasticity—that is, their ability to always produce slightly different, random results, like biological neurons.

At this point, it might help if you look at the first diagram in the gallery.

In a real neuron, this would be a lipid bilayer, which essentially acts as both a resistor and a capacitor: it resists conductance, but eventually, with enough electricity along the input dendrite, it builds up enough potential that its own spike of electricity is produced—which then flows along the axons to other neurons—and so on and on.

Then, as spikes arrive from the inputs, the GST slowly begins to crystallise.

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John Henderson
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