Materials for brain-inspired computing

Brain-inspired computing is an emerging field, which aims to extend the capabilities of information technology beyond digital logic. A compact nanoscale device, emulating biological synapses, is needed as the building block for brain-like computational systems. Here, we report a new nanoscale electronic synapse based on technologically mature phase change materials employed in optical data storage and nonvolatile memory applications. We utilize continuous resistance transitions in phase change materials to mimic the analog nature of biological synapses, enabling the implementation of a synaptic learning rule. We demonstrate different forms of spike-timing-dependent plasticity using the same nanoscale synapse with picojoule level energy consumption.