Nanoscale Device Acts Like The Brain’s Visual Cortex To Directly See Things

In a new study published in February 2020 in the journal Science Advances, researchers report the development of a nanoscale device that acts like the brain’s visual cortex to directly see things in its path. The scientists created a new superstructure through the use of two nanomaterials in tandem that could help to make a machine that uses AI to simulate a human mind‘s function.

This is a baby step toward developing neuromorphic computers, that can simultaneously process and memorize information. At some time in the future, this invention may help to make robots that can think like humans,” researcher Jayan Thomas says,  The big advantage of the current approach is in its saving of energy for processing as well as the time required for computation.


Another researcher, Tania Roy, predicted that the new technology might be applied to drones that can fly unaided to remote locations to find people in various dangerous situations. The problem with current drones is, she says, because “These drones need connectivity to remote servers to identify what they scan with their camera eye. Our device makes this drone truly autonomous because it can see just like a human.

With earlier research, scientists succeeded in making a camera that can create an image of what is observed, and then upload it for processing and image recognition to a server. The current device, she says, not only sees the image but also instantly recognizes it.

According to the researchers, this could also be extremely valuable for defense applications, such as helping soldiers see better on a battlefield. Another potential advantage is that, according to the co-first author Sonali Das, “Our device can sense, detect and reconstruct an image along with extremely low power consumption, which makes it capable for long-term deployment in field applications.”

The scientists tested out the device in face recognition experiments. These were only meant to be tests to check out how well the neuromorphic computing helped the machine to see objects. Describing these as preliminary, Thomas says they wanted to assess the optoelectronic device. “Since our device mimics vision-related brain cells, facial recognition is one of the most important tests for our neuromorphic building block.”