Case studies

Brain-inspired circuits

Researchers at the Zepler Institute are developing electronic circuits that function more like the human brain and will be smaller and faster than today’s devices

Conventional computers store information in one place and process it in another. A chip being developed at the Zepler Institute is different: this device works more like the brain, processing and storing information using the same hardware, and like the brain, it has incredible image processing capabilities.

Having demonstrated that such a device is possible, Zepler Institute researchers are now developing the manufacturing techniques to enable it to become a reality. Using the Institute’s unique prototyping and characterisation facilities, they are fabricating circuits based on nanoscale memory-resistors (memristors) and creating entirely new types of computer chips. Inspired by neural networks and synapses in the brain, these circuits are manufactured using techniques such as electron beam lithography, atomic layer deposition, sputtering and nano-imprint lithography.

Feature sizes down to 10nm have been achieved and researchers aim is to go down to 1nm, using 8-inch wafers and commercially-compatible manufacturing techniques to produce reliable, high-quality, medium-to-large-scale memristor-based devices.

These devices will enable the computers of the future - with more functionality than today’s systems but far smaller and requiring less power; computers that are able to perform massive processing tasks in fractions of a second and even to function as autonomous cognitive systems.