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Chaotic Physics in Ferroelectrics Hints at Brain-Like Computing

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Unexpected behavior in ferroelectric materials supports a new approach to information storage and processing.

Unexpected behavior in ferroelectric materials explored by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory supports a new approach to information storage and processing known as memcomputing.

Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers have found unexpected behavior in ferroelectric materials, supporting a new approach to information storage and processing.

The researchers used a scanning probe microscope to draw areas of switched polarization, known as domains, on the surface of a ferroelectric material. When written in dense arrays, the domains form complex and unpredictable patterns on the material's surface, according to the researchers.

After studying the patterns of domain formation, the researchers determined that the complex behavior could be explained through chaos theory. One domain would suppress the creation of a second domain nearby, but facilitate the formation of one farther away, says ORNL's Sergei Kalinin.

University of South Carolina professor Yuriy Pershin, who collaborated on the research, says their breakthrough possesses key characteristics needed for memcomputing, a new computing paradigm in which information storage and processing occur on the same physical platform. "Memcomputing is basically how the human brain operates: neurons and their connections--synapses--can store and process information in the same location," Pershin says.

Although the system theoretically has a universal computing ability, the researchers say more work is needed to design a commercially attractive all-electronic computing device based on the domain interaction effect.

From Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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