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Flexible Carbon Nanotube Synaptic Transistor for Neurological Electronic Skin Applications

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journal contribution
posted on 27.07.2020, 10:43 by Haochuan Wan, Yunqi Cao, Li-Wei Lo, Junyi Zhao, Nelson Sepúlveda, Chuan Wang
There is an increasing interest in the development of memristive or artificial synaptic devices that emulate the neuronal activities for neuromorphic computing applications. While there have already been many reports on artificial synaptic transistors implemented on rigid substrates, the use of flexible devices could potentially enable an even broader range of applications. In this paper, we report artificial synaptic thin-film transistors built on an ultrathin flexible substrate using high carrier mobility semiconducting single-wall carbon nanotubes. The synaptic characteristics of the flexible synaptic transistor including long-term/short-term plasticity, spike-amplitude-dependent plasticity, spike-width-dependent plasticity, paired-pulse facilitation, and spike-time-dependent plasticity have all been systematically characterized. Furthermore, we have demonstrated a flexible neurological electronic skin and its peripheral nerve with a flexible ferroelectret nanogenerator (FENG) serving as the sensory mechanoreceptor that generates action potentials to be processed and transmitted by the artificial synapse. In such neurological electronic skin, the flexible FENG sensor converts the tactile input (magnitude and frequency of force) into presynaptic action potential pulses, which are then passed to the gate of the synaptic transistor to induce change in its postsynaptic current, mimicking the modulation of synaptic weight in a biological synapse. Our neurological electronic skin closely imitates the behavior of actual human skin, and it allows for instantaneous detection of force stimuli and offers biological synapse-like behavior to relay the stimulus signals to the next stage. The flexible sensory skin could potentially be used to interface with skeletal muscle fibers for applications in neuroprosthetic devices.