Nano memory cells could let scientists create bionic brains, making human-like computers that could keep us alive

Cell can store different strands of information at the same time for the first time, like a human brain

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The Independent Tech

Scientists have created an electronic memory cell that mimics the way that human brains work, potentially unlocking the possibility of the making bionic brains.

The cell can process and store multiple bits of information, like the human brain. Scientists hope that developing it could make for artificial cells that simulate the brain’s processes, leading to treatments for neurological conditions and for replica brains that scientists can experiment on.

The new cells have been likened to the difference between having an on-off light switch and a dimmer, or the difference between black and white pictures or those with full colour, including shade light and texture. While traditional memory cells for computers can only process one binary thing at a time, the new discovery allows for much more complex memory processes like those found in the brain.

They are also able to retain previous information, allowing for artificial systems that have the extraordinary memory powers found in human beings. While the new discovery is a long way from leading to a bionic brain, the discovery is an important step towards the dense and fast memory cells that will be needed to imitate the human brain's processes.

“This is the closest we have come to creating a brain-like system with memory that learns and stores analog information and is quick at retrieving this stored information,” Sharath Sriram, who led the project, said.

“The human brain is an extremely complex analog computer… its evolution is based on its previous experiences, and up until now this functionality has not been able to be adequately reproduced with digital technology.”

 

The cells could eventually be stitched together to create a web that imitates the neural networks of the human brain. In doing so, scientists could make what is essentially a perfect copy of a human brain without ever having to create one organically.

“If you could replicate a brain outside the body, it would minimise ethical issues involved in treating and experimenting on the brain which can lead to better understanding of neurological conditions,” Hussein Nili, who was the leader author of the study, said.

The study, named ‘Donor-Induced Performance Tuning of Amorphous SrTiO3 Memristive Nanodevices: Multistate Resistive Switching and Mechanical Tunability’, was published in Advanced Functional Materials.

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