Source: Dr. Yen-Fu Lin (Associate Professor, Department of Physics, NCHU)

Translated by Adam Shih

▲NCHU’s Prof. Yen-Fu Lin, (Right), Dr. Mengjiao Li(Left) and student Feng-Shou Yang develop novel two-dimensional neural synapses.

A research team led by Prof. Yen-Fu Lin, Associate Professor of the Department of Physics and Nanoscience, National Chung-Hsing University (NCHU), as well as post-doctoral fellow Dr. Mengjiao Li, student Feng-Shou Yang, and Prof. Chen-Hsin Lien of the Department of Electrical Engineering, National Tsing-Hua University (NTHU), has been formed. The research team pointed out that by making use of the natural oxide layer in the two-dimensional semiconductor material and its outstanding short/long term memory capability, a new two-dimensional human brain can be used to develop new two-dimensional synaptic artificial electronic devices. The human brain, with its ability to process tens of millions of parallel data cycles per second, has become a natural target for the development of electronic devices to cope with the higher speed and efficiency of computer computing in this era of “Biggish Data”. The results of the study have been published in the international journal Nature Communications in June 2020.

Recently, the new generation of materials, namely "two-dimensional layered semiconductors", has advantages such as atomic-level thickness, large area development and excellent charge transfer properties. It is thus seen as a suitable replacement for silicon. However, most two-dimensional materials are ultrasensitive to water and oxygen, and their oxidation-prone nature can cause serious degradation of electronic devices, which can significantly affect their further development. Instead, the research team tried to use the natural oxide layer of 2D materials to manipulate the internal charge transfer properties of the materials. Namely, the research team's attempt to achieve novel neurological functions relies on the charge storage capacity of its natural oxide layer.

The human brain is by tens of millions of computations compared to traditional computers, using its synapses and neurons to form a neural network to process computations and conduct and remember. With the goal of finding energy-saving alternatives, the research team has developed a two-dimensional transistor with a natural oxide layer, which, through its controlled charge storage capacity, has developed important applications in nonvolatile memory and neural synaptic-like components. In addition, the two-dimensional layered Indium selenide (InSe) transistor channel has a 2-nm thick layer of natural oxide at the bottom. By measuring low-frequency noise, the team systematically investigated the charge transport mechanism led by surface effects in components and map out the dynamic charge capture/release process. The electronic device was found to have excellent durability and reliability of storage characteristics, as well as basic synaptic functions, including short/long term memory, and its picture recognition capabilities were simulated by constructing an artificial neural network system. The results of this work show that the effective manipulation of the oxidation behavior of two-dimensional semiconductor materials has significant implications for the control of the electrical properties of their electronic components and the development of unique applications. 

By exploring the physical mechanisms and importance of the natural oxide layer in regulating the charge transport process, the team was able to exploit it to develop simple non-volatile memory structures and electrically stimulated artificial neural synaptic components. “Hopefully, this study will set a meaningful example in the development of advanced neuromorphic computing for most sensitive two-dimensional layered semiconductor electronic devices," said Associate Professor Lin. Professor Lin also highlighted this hard-won result of research is not easy to come by, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the research partners and members of National Chung-Hsing University and National Tsing-Hua University. This group of NCHU background members has proven the value of teamwork through their practical approach to science, and has connected the world with the quality of research and results.

Picture Description:
NCHU’s Prof. Yen-Fu Lin, (Right), Dr. Mengjiao Li (Left) and student Feng-Shou Yang develop novel two-dimensional neural synapses.

Figure 1

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