What is it about?

The straintronic spin neuron is an artificial neuron that mimics the functioning of a biological threshold neuron. Here, the neuronal activity is elicited from the respose of a multiferroic (magnetostrictive + piezoelectric) device to elecrtically generated stress. This device is orders of magnitude more energy-efficient than its competitors.

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Why is it important?

It is important because of its energy efficiency. The human brain is far more energy efficient than any artificial computing hardware in executing certian tasks. It dissipates about 20 watts of energy is executing even complex cognitive tasks which a modern day computer will dissipate several kilowatts to perform. Innovating more energy efficient hardware that mimics the human brain allows us to approach the amazing capability of the human brain.


Artificial neural networks (ANN) are still decidedly inferior to the human brain. Whereas the human brain is capable of lifelong or incremental learning because of the complex interactions between the hippocampus and cortex, ANN does not sport this capability because of indiscriminate information erasure as new data arrive, leading to the malady of catastrophic forgetfulness. The fact that this device is non-volatile and can be adapted to synaptogenesis raises hopes that it may identify routes to approaching the capability of the human brain.

Professor Supriyo Bandyopadhyay
Virginia Commonwealth University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The straintronic spin-neuron, Nanotechnology, June 2015, Institute of Physics Publishing,
DOI: 10.1088/0957-4484/26/28/285201.
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