Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


UGA faculty awarded Moore Foundation grant to investigate 'brain on a chip'

Alan Flurry

Imitating the astonishing energy efficiency phenomena of the human brain presents the next challenge in high-speed computing. Potential solutions might combine new quantum functionality that arise from nano-scale complex materials to replicate brain-like performance, or neuromorphic computing.

Yohannes Abate, Susan Dasher and Charles Dasher MD Professor of Physics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of physics and astronomy, has been awarded a $1.25 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative. The funding will enable Abate's research team to further explore fundamental properties of nanometer-scale oxide material devices that behave like biological synaptic systems.

The goal of the research, in anticipation of the ravenous energy consumption required by digital and quantum computing, and particularly efforts in large language models (LLM) and artificial intelligence, is to change the architecture of conventional computing in favor of synaptic action signaling that emulate brain-like performance.

"Biological brains function using brain cells – neurons – that communicate with others neurons by sending signals via connections called synapses. This communication (synaptic action) occurs via changes in charge concentrations that modify the transmission of an electrical signal across the synapse," Abate said. "This research will try to mimic that synaptic gap at a very small scale on a material and gain understanding of the mechanism of transmission of information-carrying weak signals that will enable computing resembling that of the brain."

The 'brain in a chip' concept would potentially open energy-efficient new frontiers for fundamental understanding of memory, learning, and information retention for brain-inspired information processing.

Image: Yohannes Abate. UGA Photo

Support Franklin College

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.