UL researchers create ‘brain-inspired computing architecture’


An international team of scientists, including researchers from the University of Limerick, have discovered a new molecule that could further increase ultra-fast decision-making in computers.

The discovery of power saving, creating a new type of computing architecture, could have major implications in areas ranging from financial decision-making to bioinformatics.

The team at UL’s Bernal Institute has found that a single molecule made up of just 77 atoms provides a fundamental new electronic circuit element in which complex logic is encoded in nanoscale material properties.

The new type of brain-inspired computer architecture was created by optimizing the electrical properties of soft crystals from molecules.

The discovery has just been published in the world journal Nature.

Damien Thompson, a UL physics professor who leads a predictive materials design research team at the Bernal Institute, made the discovery using state-of-the-art computer simulations run on the Irish Center for High-End supercomputer. computing.

He showed that the molecule uses the natural asymmetry in its metal-organic bonds to switch cleanly between different states, allowing it to perform lightning-fast decision making.

Damien Thompson, Lecturer in Physics and Engineering, University of Limerick – Photo: Alan Place

“In the new device, everything is done in one place, so there’s no need to keep reading or moving information around,” explained the Science Foundation Ireland-supported scientist.

“This removes the ‘von Neumann bottleneck’, a problem that has plagued computing from the very beginning and still hampers technology development. The new molecular circuitry means that the computer processing unit no longer needs to retrieve data for every operation it performs, saving huge amounts of time and energy.

“We are excited about the possibilities, as the devices have all the hallmarks of brain computing. First, a large number of tiny identical molecular processors are networked together and run in parallel. More importantly, they feature both redundancy and reconfigurability, which means the device can solve problems even if the individual components don’t all work perfectly all the time or in exactly the same way every time.

“The new circuit elements could provide smaller, faster, and more power-efficient computers, exactly what is needed for edge computing, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence applications,” he added. Professor Thompson.

The organometallic molecules were synthesized by collaborators at the Indian Association for Cultivation of Science (IACS) in Kolkata, made into films at the National University of Singapore, and tested as circuit elements in Singapore, at the Science Research Laboratory. IA from Hewlett Packard in Colorado and Texas A&M University.

Professor Luuk van der Wielen, Director of the Bernal Institute and Bernal Professor of Biosystems Engineering and Design, expressed his delight at the major breakthrough involving UL scientists.

“This high-impact research reinforces the ambition of UL’s Bernal Institute to impact the world based on cutting-edge science in an increasingly international context. This is a continuation of Bernal scientists’ world-class contribution to the field of predictive materials modeling,” he explained.

Professor Seán Arkins, Dean of Science and Engineering at UL, said: “Researchers in UL’s Department of Physics continue to pioneer the exploitation of organic materials for electrical, and this work places them at the forefront of molecular nanotechnology.

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