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15 Sep

Researchers discover a material that can learn like the brain

EPFL researchers have discovered that vanadium dioxide (VO2), a compound used in electronics, is capable of "remembering" the entire history of previous external stimuli. This is the first material to be identified as possessing this property, although there could be others. Mohammad Samizadeh Nikoo, a PhD student at EPFL's Power and Wide-band-gap Electronics Research Laboratory (POWERlab), made a chance discovery during his research on phase transitions in vanadium dioxide (VO2). VO2 has an insulating phase when relaxed at room temperature, and undergoes a steep insulator-to-metal transition at 68 °C, where its lattice structure changes. Classically, VO2 exhibits a volatile memory: "the material reverts back to the insulating state right after removing the excitation," says Samizadeh Nikoo. For his thesis, he set out to...
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