Monday, 29 July 2019 14:02

Australia: Optogenetic Chip simulates the Brain Featured

Scientists from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have mimicked the human brain with an electronic chip. It uses light to create, change and delete "memories".

The new chip, developed by the workgroup  "Functional Materials and Microsystems" led by Dr. Sumeet Walia is based on an ultra-thin material that changes electrical resistance in response to different wavelengths of light, enabling it to mimic the way that neurons work to store and delete information in the brain. A photocurrent is generated on the chip with the aid of light. Switching between colors causes the current to change direction from positive to negative. This directional switch, or polarity change, corresponds to the binding and dissolution of neuronal connections in the brain, a mechanism that enables neurons to connect (and to induce learning) or to inhibit (and to induce forgetting).

The researchers are optimistic that the development will bring them one important step closer to the realization of a bionic brain - a brain-on-a-chip, which could be able to learn from my environment like a human being.

According to a current press release, Dr. Taimur Ahmed, principal author of the study is convinced that the technology creates enormous opportunities for researchers to better understand the brain and how it is affected by disorders that disrupt neuronal connections, such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

The study was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials:
Taimur Ahmed et al (2019). Multifunctional Optoelectronics via Harnessing Defects in Layered Black Phosphorus. Advanced Functional Materials. DOI: 10,1002/adm.201901991

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