Global long-term aim of our group is to develop systems that can acquire information (visual, acoustic, chemical, tactile etc., therefore, we need sensors), make its processing, including learning (therefore, we need hardware artificial neuronal networks, where storage and processing is done by same elements), and generation of signals for actuating elements or direct medical therapeutic actions.
Of course, before combining these sub-tasks into a unique smart system we need to perform researches in separate parallel research lines. In other words, we are focused at developing novel paradigms for integrating smart systems, sensing, memory and logic in a novel approach to neuromorphic and hybrid bio-electronics.
Our approach is based on developing and studying materials, processes, devices and systems intrinsically endowed with tailored properties including the ability to smart transduce bio-signals, monitoring biomolecules and biomarkers, and for artificial synapses fully emulating the properties of the natural ones.
Even though each of these topics is by itself a subject of active research activities in our team, their integration in smart systems that could enable fully neuromorphic response and actions are pursued and represent our challenging perspective. Our general approach and the specific subject of research, better described in the following, are of great interest from both the fundamental research point of view (materials structure-properties relationship, better understanding of the brain function, hardware modeling of specific functions of living beings, etc.) and in the perspective of the applications involving neuromorphic computing (hardware artificial neural networks, in-memory computing, Hebbian learning, etc.), interfacing smart neuromorphic devices with the natural living systems (implantable multi-panel sensors, smart containers and chambers for targeted delivery and induced release, etc.), enabling novel technologies capable of emulating the natural intelligence and behavior (model systems and implantable prosthesis of single synapses and parts of nervous system). We approach such a perspective starting from the basic development of multifunctional materials, designing and developing novel processes and technologies for the fabrication of the devices, integrating in neuromorphic architectures for smart systems of new generation.
Our perspective is pursued through the following three major more specific field of research:
The activity is based on a new element, organic memristive device, that mimics several important properties of natural synapses. In particular, it was used as key element for the artificial implementation of bio-inspired circuits and systems, allowing associative learning at the hardware level; for the achievement of single- and double layer perceptrons; first steps towards the synapse prosthesis; realization of self-assembled networks with stochastic architecture and very large integration level, allowing memorizing and processing of the information.
This activity is connected to the realization of smart containers, allowing targeted delivery and induced release of pharmaceutical preparations to the diseased zones or to risk areas of the body. Ideally, the release of the pharmaceutical agents in the case when the disease occurs. If it is impossible, an external targeting can be done telematically by the physician, after the patient request and/or readings from sensors systems.
This activity is connected to the sensing and transduction of signals from parts of the living beings body (eyes, blood, brain, etc.) and interfacing these processed signals with computational and actuating elements. Innovation in materials, architectures, fabrication methods are all active themes of research including their applications to health, well being and improved environment for a better living.