news: using polymers to mimic biological synapses

The Foulger group has been active in developing non-conjugated polymers for use as synaptic mimics and recently published an article in Advanced Electronic Materials on a carbazole derivatized n‐alkyl methacrylate polymeric memristor which acts as a flexible synaptic substitute. A biological synapse is a junction between two nerve cells and consists of a tiny gap across which electrical impulses pass by diffusion of a neurotransmitter and are the basis for cognitive responses in living creatures. The group's aim is to develop polymeric equivalents that can be printed in "physical" neural networks.

2015: Nanoscale / cover art


An article to Nanoscale entitled Nonvolatile optically-erased colloidal memristors was selected for the cover art.

A nonconjugated methacrylate terpolymer containing carbazole moieties (electron donors), 1,3,4-oxadiazole moieties (electron acceptors), and Coumarin-6 in the pendant groups was synthesized via free radical copolymerization of methacrylate monomers containing the respective functional groups. The terpolymer was formed into 57 nm particles through a mini-emulsion route. For a thin 100 nm film of the fused particles sandwiched between an indium-tin oxide (ITO) electrode and an Al electrode, the structure behaved as a nonvolatile flash (rewritable) memory with accessible electronic states that could be written, read, and optically erased. The device exhibited a turn-on voltage of ca. −4.5 VDC and a 106 current ratio. A device in the ON high conductance state could be reverted to the OFF state with a short exposure to a 360 nm light source. The development of semiconducting colloidal inks that can be converted into electroactive devices through a continuous processing method is a critical step in the widespread adoption of these 2D manufacturing technologies for printed electronics.

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