(Phys.org)—Researchers have proposed a new type of artificial neuron called a “straintronic spin neuron” that could serve as the basic unit of artificial neural networks—systems modeled on human brains that have the ability to compute, learn, and adapt. Compared to previous designs, the new artificial neuron is potentially orders of magnitude more energy-efficient, more robust against thermal degradation, and fires at a faster rate.
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By Lia Zyga. “The extraordinary energy efficiency of the straintronic spin neuron is due to the fact that it takes very little voltage to switch the magnetization of a soft magnetostrictive nanomagnet elastically coupled to a piezoelectric film—a system known as a ‘two-phase multiferroic’—as long as the magnetostrictive nanomagnet is made of a special class of materials that have very high magnetostriction, such as Terfenol-D.”