Organic transistors that mimic brain synapses will connect your brain to the internet one day.
Researchers in France claim to have made the first transistor that mimics connections in the human brain.
The device, which is based on pentacene and gold nanoparticles, could lead to a new generation of neuro-inspired computers as well as help connect artificial structures to biological tissue.
Dominique Vuillaume of the University of Lille and colleagues studied how electric charges flow through the device and discovered that they behave in the same way as chemical neurotransmitters moving through a synaptic connection in the brain.
A biological synapse transforms a voltage spike (action potential) arriving from a pre-synaptic neuron into a discharge of chemical neurotransmitters that are then detected by a post-synaptic neuron. These are subsequently transformed into new spikes, leading to a succession of pulses that either become larger or diminish in size.
This fundamental property of synaptic behaviour is known as short-term plasticity, which is related to a neural network's ability to learn.
It is this plasticity that Vuillaume and colleagues have succeeded in mimicking.