Memristors with diffusive dynamics as synaptic emulators for neuromorphic computing

Wang Z, Joshi S, Savel'ev SE, Jiang H, Midya R, Lin P, Hu M, Ge N, Strachan JP, Li Z, Wu Q, Barnell M, Li GL, Xin HL, Williams RS, Xia Q, Yang JJ., 2016
Fusion TEM holder tip
Image courtesy of NATURE MATERIALS


The accumulation and extrusion of Ca2+ in the pre- and postsynaptic compartments play a critical role in initiating plastic changes in biological synapses. To emulate this fundamental process in electronic devices, we developed diffusive Ag-in-oxide memristors with a temporal response during and after stimulation similar to that of the synaptic Ca2+ dynamics. In situ high-resolution transmission electron microscopy and nanoparticle dynamics simulations both demonstrate that Ag atoms disperse under electrical bias and regroup spontaneously under zero bias because of interfacial energy minimization, closely resembling synaptic influx and extrusion of Ca2+, respectively. The diffusive memristor and its dynamics enable a direct emulation of both short- and long-term plasticity of biological synapses, representing an advance in hardware implementation of neuromorphic functionalities.

Impact Statement

A new class of memristor were demonstrated as synaptic emulators that function primarily on the basis of diffusion (rather than drift) dynamics. The microscopic nature of both the threshold switching and relaxation of the di usive memristor is revealed for the first time by in situ HRTEM and explained by nanoparticle dynamics simulation.