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World’s First Material With Innate Brain-Like Learning

Muhammad Samizadeh Nikoo—an electrical engineering PhD student at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s POWERlab—recently discovered a brain-like learning ability in vanadium dioxide (VO2). When observing how long VO2 (an inorganic compound) takes to transition from one state to another, Nikoo found that it has “volatile memory.” To investigate, he administered electric currents through the material, noting how it changed phases while the current passed through it. When running the current a second time, he found that the material “remembered” the shapes it took up to three hours ago, more quickly regaining those compositions again. “We didn’t expect to see this kind of memory effect, and it has nothing to do with electronic states but rather with the physical structure of the material. It’s a novel discovery: no other material behaves in this way,” says the lab’s director, Professor Elison Matioli. Learn more about this fascinating material and its potential at Sci Tech Daily.

Image courtesy of POWERlab / 2022 EPFL

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