Next-gen data storage could be based on our brains

Researchers have built a new platform that could be the basis for data storage that’s smaller and faster than ever. Their inspiration? The human brain.

Scientists from RMIT University in Melbourne and the University of California, Santa Barbara worked together to make a structure using a thin, oxide film that’s 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. Unlike most technology, which aims for mechanised perfection, the film is designed with in-built defects so it has a degree of electrical resistance, meaning it has to ‘remember’ what it did in the past in order to know how to behave, much like people do.

It’s based on memristors, which can be made into building blocks that can be trained to mimic how brain synapses (pictured above) communicate. The researchers believe this could eventually replace current hard drive tech including Flash and SSD, allowing for the development of stable and reliable nanoscale memory devices and possibly a whole new way of organising computer systems.

Their research will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Advanced Functional Materials and in the meantime, they’ll continue to perfect their design. Project leader Dr Sharath Sriram says, ‘While more investigation needs to be done, our work advances the search for next generation memory technology that can replicate the complex functions of human neural system – bringing us one step closer to the bionic brain.’ Here’s hoping that’s a good thing…

Image by Bruno Pascal via Wikimedia Commons.

Want to read more? If you’re looking to buy a wearable or activity tracker, we’ve found the best wearables to keep you safe, but, if they’re too expensive, here are the best budget wearables and activity trackers for under £70.

If you’re not bothered by wearables at all, but still want help with keeping fit, check out our feature on 10 kitchen gadgets, tools and utensils for healthy living.

Diane Shipley