We have demonstrated the proof of principle of a semiconductor neuron, which has dendrites, axon, and a soma and computes information encoded in electrical pulses in the same way as biological neurons. Electrical impulses applied to dendrites diffuse along microwires to the soma. The soma is the active part of the neuron, which regenerates input pulses above a voltage threshold and transmits them into the axon. Our concept of neuron is a major step forward because its spatial structure controls the timing of pulses, which arrive at the soma. Dendrites and axon act as transmission delay lines, which modify the information, coded in the timing of pulses. We have finally shown that noise enhances the detection sensitivity of the neuron by helping the transmission of weak periodic signals. A maximum enhancement of signal transmission was observed at an optimum noise level known as stochastic resonance. The experimental results are in excellent agreement with simulations of the FitzHugh-Nagumo model. Our neuron is therefore extremely well suited to providing feedback on the various mathematical approximations of neurons and building functional networks.
Samardak, A. S., Nogaret, A., Janson, N. B., Balanov, A., Farrer, I., & Ritchie, D. A. (2011). Spiking computation and stochastic amplification in a neuron-like semiconductor microstructure. Journal of Applied Physics, 109(10), . https://doi.org/10.1063/1.3577609