Slugging out: Scientists find tha material


With help from Advanced Photon Source, a team of scientists have discovered a new material that paves the way for more efficient artificial intelligence hardware for everything from self-driving cars to surgical robots.

For artificial intelligence (AI) to become smarter, it must first be as smart as one of the simplest creatures in the animal kingdom: the sea slug.

New study has found that a material can mimic the most essential intelligence characteristics of the sea slug. Discovery is a step towards building hardware that could help make AI more efficient and reliable for technologies ranging from self-driving cars and surgical robots to social media algorithms.

“We are very sensitive to the change in resistivity in these samples. We can directly probe how the electronic states of oxygen and nickel evolve under different treatments. – Fanny Rodolakis, Argonne National Laboratory

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by a team of researchers from Purdue University, Rutgers University, the University of Georgia and the US Department of Energy (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. The team used resources from the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a user installation of the DOE Office of Science in Argonne.

“By studying sea slugs, neuroscientists have discovered the characteristics of intelligence that are fundamental to the survival of any organism,” said Shriram Ramanathan, Purdue professor of materials engineering. “We want to take advantage of this mature intelligence in animals to accelerate the development of AI.”

Two main signs of intelligence that neuroscientists have learned from sea slugs are habituation and awareness. Habituation is the process of getting used to a stimulus over time, such as the attenuation of noise when you take the same route to work every day. Awareness is the opposite – it reacts strongly to a new stimulus, such as avoiding bad restaurant food.

AI really struggles to learn and store new information without overwriting the information it has already learned and stored, a problem that researchers studying brain-inspired computing call “the stability-plasticity dilemma.” Habituation would allow AI to “forget” unnecessary information (for more stability) while awareness could help retain new and important information (allowing plasticity).

In this study, the researchers found a way to demonstrate both habituation and sensitization to nickel oxide, a quantum material. Quantum materials are designed to take advantage of features available only at the smallest scales in nature and useful for information processing. If a quantum material could reliably mimic these forms of learning, then it would be possible to integrate AI directly into the material. And if AI could run through both hardware and software, maybe it could perform more complex tasks using less power.

“We basically mimicked experiments done on sea slugs in quantum materials to understand how these materials can be of interest to AI,” Ramanathan said.

Studies in neuroscience have shown that the sea slug demonstrates habituation when it stops withdrawing its gills as much in response to a tapping. But an electric shock to its tail causes its gills to shrink much more dramatically, showing sensitization.

For nickel oxide, the equivalent of “gill shrinkage” is an increased change in electrical resistance. The researchers found that repeated exposure of the material to hydrogen gas results in a decrease in the change in resistance. electrical resistance of nickel oxide over time, but the introduction of a new stimulus like ozone greatly increases the change in electrical resistance.

Ramanathan and his colleagues used two APS experimental stations to test this theory, using X-ray absorption spectroscopy. A sample of nickel oxide was exposed to hydrogen and oxygen, and APS ultra-bright x-rays were used to see changes in the material at the atomic level over time.

“Nickel oxide is a relatively simple material,” said Argonne physicist Hua Zhou, co-author of the paper who worked with the 33-ID beamline team. “The goal was to use something easy to make and see if that would mimic this behavior. We looked at whether the material gained or lost a single electron after exposure to the gas.

The research team also performed analyzes on the 29-ID beamline, which uses softer x-rays to probe different ranges of energy. While the harder X-rays of 33-ID are more sensitive to “nucleus electrons, those closer to the nucleus of nickel oxide atoms, the softer X-rays can more easily observe the electrons on the shell. These are the electrons that define whether a material is electrically conductive or resistive.

“We are very sensitive to the change in resistivity in these samples,” said Fanny Rodolakis, physicist from Argonne, co-author of the article and who led the work on the 29-ID beamline. “We can directly probe how the electronic states of oxygen and nickel change under different treatments.”

Physicist Zhan Zhang and postdoctoral researcher Hui Cao, both from Argonne, contributed to the work and are listed as co-authors of the article. Zhang said APS is well suited for research like this because of its light beam that can be tuned to different energy ranges.

For practical use of quantum materials as AI material, researchers will need to figure out how to apply habituation and awareness in large-scale systems. They should also determine how a material might respond to stimuli when embedded in a computer chip.

This study is a starting point to guide these next steps, the researchers said. During this time, the PSA undergoes massive upgrade this will not only increase the brightness of its beams up to 500 times, but allow those beams to be focused much smaller than they are today. And that, Zhou said, will prove useful once this technology finds its way into electronic devices.

“If we are to test the properties of microelectronics,” he said, “the smaller beam that the upgraded APS will give us will be essential. “

In addition to the experiments at Purdue and Argonne, a team from Rutgers University performed detailed theoretical calculations to understand what was going on in nickel oxide at a microscopic level to mimic the intelligence characteristics of the slug of sea. The University of Georgia measured the conductivity to further analyze the behavior of the material.

A version of this story was originally published by Purdue University

About the advanced photon source

The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory is one of the most productive x-ray light source installations in the world. APS provides high-luminosity x-ray beams to a diverse community of researchers in materials science, chemistry, condensed matter physics, life and environmental sciences, and applied research. These X-rays are perfectly suited to the exploration of materials and biological structures; elementary distribution; chemical, magnetic, electronic states; and a wide range of technologically important engineering systems, from batteries to fuel injector sprayers, all of which are the foundations of our country’s economic, technological and physical well-being. Each year, more than 5,000 researchers use APS to produce more than 2,000 publications detailing hard-hitting discoveries and solving more vital biological protein structures than users at any other x-ray light source research center. APS scientists and engineers are breaking new ground in the technology that is central to advancing accelerator and light source operations. This includes the insertion devices that produce the extreme brightness X-rays valued by researchers, the lenses that focus the X-rays down to a few nanometers, the instrumentation that maximizes the way the X-rays interact with the samples studied. , and software that collects and manages the massive amount of data resulting from discovery research at APS.

This research used resources from Advanced Photon Source, a US DOE Office of Science user facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by the Argonne National Laboratory under contract # DE-AC02-06CH11357.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to urgent national problems in science and technology. The country’s leading national laboratory, Argonne conducts cutting-edge fundamental and applied scientific research in virtually all scientific disciplines. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of businesses, universities, and federal, state, and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance U.S. scientific leadership, and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from over 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the United States Department of Energy Science Office.

The Office of Science of the United States Department of Energy is the largest proponent of basic physical science research in the United States and strives to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information visit https: // ener gy .gov / s c ience.


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