Avalanches and criticality in self-organized nanoscale networks

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Science Advances  01 Nov 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 11, eaaw8438
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw8438


Current efforts to achieve neuromorphic computation are focused on highly organized architectures, such as integrated circuits and regular arrays of memristors, which lack the complex interconnectivity of the brain and so are unable to exhibit brain-like dynamics. New architectures are required, both to emulate the complexity of the brain and to achieve critical dynamics and consequent maximal computational performance. We show here that electrical signals from self-organized networks of nanoparticles exhibit brain-like spatiotemporal correlations and criticality when fabricated at a percolating phase transition. Specifically, the sizes and durations of avalanches of switching events are power law distributed, and the power law exponents satisfy rigorous criteria for criticality. These signals are therefore qualitatively and quantitatively similar to those measured in the cortex. Our self-organized networks provide a low-cost platform for computational approaches that rely on spatiotemporal correlations, such as reservoir computing, and are an important step toward creating neuromorphic device architectures.

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