The University of Twente brings brain-like computers one step closer

A breakthrough at the University of Twente brings new brain-like computers one step closer. An international group of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Christian Nijhuis has developed a new type of molecular switch that can learn from past behavior. The researchers published their findings today in the scientific journal Nature Materials. Nijhuis: “These molecules learn in the same way as our brain.”

Computers, data centers and other electronics use enormous amounts of energy. We are now building huge wind farms to meet that energy demand. But according to Prof. Dr. Christian Nijhuis, we can also focus our attention on making our electronics more efficient. “Our brains are the most efficient computers we know of. They use ten thousand times less energy than the most efficient computers,” says Nijhuis.

This is because our brains process data in a completely different way. Where computers process binary streams of information – with zeros and ones – our brains work analogously using time-dependent impulses. “Our brains process information from millions of nerve cells from all our senses without any problems. Unlike traditional electronics, they only use the brain cells and synapses through which the pulses pass,” says Nijhuis. Because energy is only consumed during one pulse, our brains can process a lot of data at the same time much more efficiently.

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