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JNCASR scientists develop brain-like computing with industry compatible nitride semiconductors

They used scandium nitride (ScN) to develop a device mimicking a synapse that controls the signal transmission as well as remembers the signal

January 23, 2023 11:31 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:14 am IST - Bengaluru


A file photo of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) in Bengaluru. Apart from JNCASR, researchers from the University of Sydney also participated in this study.

A file photo of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) in Bengaluru. Apart from JNCASR, researchers from the University of Sydney also participated in this study.

A team of scientists from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have used scandium nitride (ScN) and Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) compatibility to develop brain-like computing.

This invention can provide a new material for stable, CMOS-compatible optoelectronic synaptic functionalities at a relatively lower energy cost and also potential to be translated into an industrial product.

According to the Department of Science and Technology, the JNCASR team led by Dheemahi Rao who were working on nitride-based materials used their background for developing hardware for neuromorphic computing. They used ScN to develop a device mimicking a synapse that controls the signal transmission as well as remembers the signal.

“The JNCASR team demonstrates an artificial optoelectronic synapse with ScN thin films that can mimic synaptic functionalities like short-term memory, long-term memory, the transition from short-term to long-term memory, learning–forgetting, frequency selective optical filtering, frequency-dependent potentiation and depression, Hebbian learning, and logic-gate operations,” states the department.

Compared to the existing materials used to demonstrate optoelectronic synapse, ScN is more stable, CMOS compatible, and can be seamlessly integrated with existing Si technology. It can act as a platform for both excitatory and inhibitory functions. The industrial processing techniques of ScN are similar to the existing semiconductor fabrication infrastructure. Response to the optical stimuli also has the advantage of possible integration with photonic circuits known for higher speed and broader bandwidth than electronic circuits.

“Our work enables neuromorphic computing research with a stable, scalable, and CMOS-compatible III-nitride semiconductor that exhibits both excitatory and inhibitory synaptic functionalities. Unlike the previous works on all-electronic synapse, our work shows an optoelectronic synapse with a large bandwidth, reduced RC delays, and low power consumption,”said Dr. Bivas Saha, Assistant Professor, JNCASR.

Apart from JNCASR, researchers from the University of Sydney (Dr. Magnus Garbrecht and Dr. Asha I. K. Pillai) also participated in this study published recently in the scientific journal Advanced Electronic Materials.

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