Controlling the synaptic plasticity of a Cu 2S gap-type atomic switch

Alpana Nayak*, Takeo Ohno, Tohru Tsuruoka, Kazuya Terabe, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, James K. Gimzewski, Masakazu Aono

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


It is demonstrated that a Cu 2S gap-type atomic switch, referred to as a Cu 2S inorganic synapse, emulates the synaptic plasticity underlying the sensory, short-term, and long-term memory formations in the human brain. The change in conductance of the Cu 2S inorganic synapse is considered analogous to the change in strength of a biological synaptic connection known as the synaptic plasticity. The plasticity of the Cu 2S inorganic synapse is controlled depending on the interval, amplitude, and width of an input voltage pulse stimulation. Interestingly, the plasticity is influenced by the presence of air or moisture. Time-dependent scanning tunneling microscopy images of the Cu-protrusions grown in air and in vacuum provide clear evidence of the influence of air on their stability. Furthermore, the plasticity depends on temperature, such that a long-term memory is achieved much faster at elevated temperatures with shorter or fewer number of input pulses, indicating a close analogy with a biological synapse where elevated temperature increases the degree of synaptic transmission. The ability to control the plasticity of the Cu 2S inorganic synapse justifies its potential as an advanced synthetic synapse with air/temperature sensibility for the development of artificial neural networks. Features of human memory are mimicked by a Cu 2S gap-type atomic switch, which behaves as a biological synapse element under voltage pulse stimulation. The fact that it responds to the presence of air and the change of temperature distinguish it as an advanced synthetic synapse with the potential to perceive environment, similar to the human brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3606-3613
Number of pages8
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sep 11
Externally publishedYes


  • atomic switches
  • nanoelectronics
  • neuromorphic systems
  • resistive switching
  • synapse behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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