Now, a team of researchers has made a new artificial synapse design that works using a light-based biotechnology technique called optogenetics.
The field of optogenetics is all about using pulses of light to affect change in the electrical activity of cells. Past research has experimented with the method in order to study neurons in the brain, reset our biological clocks, adjust pain thresholds, and even correct dangerously irregular heartbeats.
The new computer chip, developed by researchers at RMIT, Australian National University, Colorado State University and Queensland University of Technology, was designed to run on optogenetic principles and function like the brain. To do so it uses light of different colors to write, process and erase data.
"Our optogenetically-inspired chip imitates the fundamental biology of nature's best computer – the human brain," says Sumeet Walia, lead researcher on the study.