Developing a smart chip based on the human brain


Eveline van Doremaele. Credit: Bart van Overbeeke

Present pc techniques are excellent at performing actual calculations. However as we’re utilizing increasingly AI-based purposes, we additionally want extra environment friendly techniques which are capable of course of information in actual time with the identical precision. TU/e researcher Eveline van Doremaele is engaged on a brand new technology of computer systems modeled after the human mind. What’s extra, she used natural supplies for the distinctive chip she developed with neuromorphic computing, which suggests it is ready to work together with our our bodies.

Self-driving automobiles, facial recognition, language recognition: all purposes based mostly on artificial intelligence. To make these doable, pc techniques must adapt to an more and more dynamic setting and have the ability to deal with unstructured and imperfect information. Present synthetic neural networks work effectively, but in addition have important disadvantages. As an example, they use loads of power and take a comparatively very long time to carry out advanced calculations.

That is why TU/e researcher Eveline van Doremaele spent the previous couple of years engaged on a brand new technology of pc techniques, creating a sensible chip that can be utilized for a wide range of purposes within the human physique. On Thursday, May 25, she defended her thesis cum laude on the Mechanical Engineering division.

Mimicking the mind

“We ourselves carry round an ideal system for performing complex tasks,” Van Doremaele says whereas briefly touching her head. “Our brain is very good at dealing with uncertainties and works very efficiently in changing circumstances. This is mainly owing to the brain’s ability to execute processes and calculations at the same time, as well as learn based on previous experiences. That’s exactly what we need for AI applications.”

It is no marvel neuromorphic computing—mimicking the construction and performance of our mind in a pc system—has been on the rise lately, says Van Doremaele. “Energy-efficient, fast and dynamic, our brain demonstrates how a perfect computer system should function, thereby serving as a huge source of inspiration to our group and other scientists. We take it to the next level by trying to develop a device centering on the self-learning interaction between people and machines.”

“Examples include a smart prosthetic arm that you can hook up to your body and that you can teach to grab a pen thanks to artificial neurons, a chip that uses different sensors at the same time to detect a circulating cancer cell between millions of normal cells, and a pacemaker that can adapt to an aging heart. Once we have the technology up and running, the applications are infinite.”

Self-learning system

To make such a chip, Van Doremaele set out in the hunt for appropriate supplies that each lend themselves to programming and are well-received by our our bodies. Van Doremaele’s analysis exhibits that conductive natural polymers, lengthy molecules that permit electrical present to go by way of, are very efficient on this respect.

“To enable the system to self-learn, it’s essential for the resistance in the device to be variable. This also happens in our brain: as you learn something more often, the connection between the neural cells grows stronger. Using ions actually allows us to vary the resistance, but we also want to make the connection permanent,” she explains.

Weaker connections

“Until now, the usage of materials in which the connections grow weaker over time has been common to our field,” the Ph.D. candidate continues. “In the case of a prosthetic arm, this would mean that after a month you would, for example, no longer know how to pick up a pen.”

“P-3O, the ambipolar material we tested, is unique: it is able to vary the resistance and retain the connection created. It also works both with a liquid electrolyte, such as in a watery environment within the body, and with a solid electrolyte, an ion gel. By linking cells to each other, we can make complex circuits with certain characteristics. This comes in handy when measuring weak signals, such as minute muscle movements, or signals that are surrounded by a lot of noise, such as a heartbeat.”

Measuring sweat samples

Although loads of additional analysis is important to carry out advanced measurements, Van Doremaele did already use neuromorphic computing to develop a biosensor that would analyze take a look at topics’ sweat samples for the presence of the hereditary illness cystic fibrosis. “Using different sensors, the chip can measure the potassium and chlorine content of the sweat. We had the system make predictions for every sweat sample. If the prediction was wrong, I pressed a button and the system corrected itself. In the end, the biosensor only gave correct answers. So it learned in a unique way, like a neuron in the human brain. This provides us with a basis we can elaborate on.”

Van Doremaele has observed loads of curiosity in her work. “AI is virtually everywhere and it’s only going to get more omnipresent. But the energy problem is also increasing, as data centers use enormous amounts of energy. This means it’s essential we find alternative computer systems. Our focus on organic materials for self-learning biomedical applications is pretty unique.”

“There are only a handful of groups working on this, often in joint projects. Given the project’s multidisciplinary nature, we also established connections on campus. By looking for colleagues with different backgrounds and by sharing a lot of knowledge, I became the linking pin between the TU/e research institutes EAISI (Artificial Intelligence) and ICMS (Complex Molecular Systems). A Ph.D. can be lonely sometimes, but I have a colossal acknowledgement in my dissertation to show for it.”

Extra info:
Natural neuromorphic computing on the interface with bioelectronics. … Doremaele_van_st.pdf

Creating a sensible chip based mostly on the human mind (2023, May 26)
retrieved 26 May 2023

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