Microelectronic fabrication processes available today allow us to build nano-scale transistors used in most electronics. However, it is expected that within the next decade we will reach fundamental physical limits of silicon and conventional von Neumann architectures, the foundation of modern-day computers. Among the proposed solutions, neuromorphic computing, which strives to emulate the function of neurons and synapses of the brain, holds much promise. It promises to be many orders of magnitude more power efficient than today’s computers, and promises significant reductions in the size of devices. These advantages can be attributed principally to the representation and transmission of information by analog signals, mimicking that which we believe takes place in the brain, compared to the digital signals in today’s transistors. In addition, the nervous system contains mechanisms for long-term learning and memory, capable of enabling applications such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. One example of such analog resistive switching devices has been achieved in SrCoOx /SrTiO3 by ionic liquid gating (Fig. 1), reported by Prof. Stuart Parkin’s group (MPI Halle) [1].

This project aims to establish functional electronic devices, ultimately capable of providing behaviors and characteristics of synapses and neurons, for neuromorphic computing. Within the MPI-UBC collaboration, the program will encompass both device/material development and fundamental studies to understand the underlying physics of operations using experimentation techniques. At the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute of UBC, Prof. George Sawatzky will provide theoretical input and simulation of operations. New materials and devices will be fabricated and explored in Prof. Ke Zou’s group using molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), one of the most advanced techniques for the growth of materials with atomic-scale precision, and other characterization tools. Close collaboration will be formed with Professor Stuart Parkin’s group at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure physics, Halle, Germany.


[1]  B. Cui, P. Werner, T. Ma, X. Zhong, Z. Wang, J. M. Taylor, Y. Zhuang and S. S. P. Parkin, Nature Communications 9, 3055 (2018).

Principal Investigators

Zou (UBC) kzou [at] phas.ubc.ca

Sawatzky (UBC) sawatzky [at] physics.ubc.ca

Parkin (MPI-Halle) stuart.parkin [at] mpi-halle.mpg.de

Figure 1 In situ TEM results of SrCoOx (SCO)/SrTiO3 (STO) under ionic liquid gating, showing the switchable behavior in SCO [1]. The yellow dashed lines in the TEM images indicate the boundary between brownmillerite and the perovskite phases. The two phases of SCO show different electronic properties.  


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