Deblina Sarkar@Georgia Tech | Green Electronics to Gray Matter: Ghost Walks, Mind Blowing and Brain Doping

February 6, 2018
10:30am ET

Excessive power consumption and dissipation of electronics with technology scaling, is a serious threat to the Information Society as well as to the environment and especially smacks a hard blow to the future of energy-constrained applications such as medical implants and prosthetics. This impending energy crisis has roots in the thermal distribution of carriers, which poses fundamental limitation on energy scalability of the present transistors. The fundamental nature of the problem suggests the inability of evolutionary solutions to address this growing energy issue and demands radically new innovations on multiple fronts.

In this talk, I will demonstrate the quantum mechanical transistor, that I developed, which beats the fundamental thermal limitations of present transistors. I will describe how this can be achieved by unique integration of heterogeneous material technologies including an atomically thin material, to make the electron waves propagate (tunnel) efficiently through an energy barrier (like a ghost walking through a wall). This device is the first ever tunnel-transistor, in any architecture and any material platform, to achieve the ITRS prescription of sub-thermal turn-on characteristics over four decades of current at an ultra-low supply voltage of 0.1V. Moreover, it is the world's thinnest channel (6 atoms thick) sub-thermal tunnel-transistor. Thus, it has the potential to allow dimensional scalability to beyond Silicon scaling era and thereby to address the long-standing issue of simultaneous dimensional and power scalability.

Going beyond electronic computation, I will discuss about the biological computer: the brain, which can be thought of as an ultimate example of low power computational system. However, understanding the brain, remains as a major challenge. For decoding the brain, we need to understand in 3-D how molecules are configured throughout neurons, key cells that make up the brain, and how neurons are configured in circuits. However, since biomolecules are nanoscale, and configured with nanoscale precision, studying the brain has remained difficult. I will introduce the technology, that I have developed, which helps to decipher the organization of biomolecular building blocks of brain by literally blowing out the brain by up to 100-fold. I will describe how this technology leads to fundamental insights into synaptic transmission by revealing for the first time, a nanoscale trans-synaptic architecture in brain tissue. Apart from studying healthy brains, this technology can also be used to investigate biomolecular information related to neurological diseases and I will briefly discuss my interesting findings associated with Alzheimer’s disease, which can shed light into the neuropathology propagation.

I will conclude with my research vision for how extremely powerful technologies can be built by fusing two diverse research fields and how seamless integration of nanoelectronics-bio hybrid systems in the brain (brain doping), can create unprecedented possibilities for probing and controlling the biological computer and in future, help us transcend beyond our biological limitations.

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