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Artificial Neurons on Silicon Chips to Boost Medical Devices

Artificial Neurons on Silicon Chips

A team of international scientists, which include a Professor from New Zealand’s University of Auckland, had invented Artificial Neurons on Silicon Chips, which behave like the real thing.

As reported, the researchers have successfully reproduced the electrical properties of biological neurons onto semiconductor chips.

Benefits of the Technology

The first-of-its-kind achievement gives enormous scope for medical devices to alleviate medical conditions such a neuronal degeneration, spinal cord injury and paralysis, and heart failure.

Critically, the artificial neurons behave just like biological neurons.

Designing artificial neurons that respond to electrical signals from the nervous system like real neurons has been a major goal in medicine for decades.

This opens up the possibility of curing conditions where neurons are not working properly, or have had their processes severed as in spinal cord injury, or have died.

Artificial neurons could repair diseased bio-circuits by replicating their healthy function and responding adequately to biological feedback to restore bodily function.

Moreover, they only need 140 nanoWatts, which is one-billionth the power of a microprocessor.

This makes the neurons well suited for use in medical implants and other bio-electronic devices in order to treat chronic diseases.

The research team, led by the University of Bath and including researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Bristol and Zurich, describe the artificial neurons in a study published in Nature Communications.

Professor Paton, from the University of Auckland, explained that this opens up enormous opportunities for smarter medical devices that drive towards personalised medicine approaches to a range of diseases and disabilities.

Professor Alain Nogaret, a physicist from the University of Bath, shared that their work provides a robust method to reproduce the electrical properties of real neurons in minute detail.

The Process

The researchers successfully modelled and derived equations to explain how neurons respond to electrical stimuli from other nerves.

This is complicated by the fact that neurons are inherently ‘non-linear’.

Non-linear means that if a signal becomes twice as strong it would not necessarily elicit twice as big a reaction. It might be thrice bigger or only half the size.

They then designed silicon chips that accurately modelled biological ion channels, before proving that their silicon neurons precisely mimicked real, living neurons responding to a range of stimulations.

The researchers accurately replicated the complete dynamics of hippocampal neurons, which are crucial for learning and memory, and respiratory neurons that are essential for breathing, under a wide range of stimuli.

The approach has combined several breakthroughs. The precise parameters that control any neuron’s behaviour can be accurately estimated with high certainty.

Physical models of the hardware were created. They have demonstrated its ability to successfully mimic the behaviour of real living neurons.

They can effectively mimic different types and functions of a wide range of complex mammalian neurons.

Professor Giacomo Indiveri, from the University of Zurich, added how this work opens new horizons for neuromorphic chip design because of its unique approach to identifying crucial analogue circuit parameters.

The study was funded by a European Union Horizon 2020 Future Emerging Technologies Programme grant and a doctoral studentship funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC).

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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