In the ongoing quest to build an artificial human brain, scientists from UCLA may have just taken a big step forward. While a real synthetic brain is still far away, a team of chemical engineers found out how to grow self-assembling circuitry that resembles the structure and electrical activity of parts of a brain, according to ZDNet.
The research is the pet project of UCLA chemical engineer James Gimzewski, who proclaimed that he wanted to create a synthetic brain back in 2012.
“I want to create a synthetic brain,” Gimzewski wrote at the time. “I want to create a machine that thinks, a machine that possesses physical intelligence… Such a system does not exist and promises to cause a revolution one might call the post-human revolution.”
Gimzewski and his team found that a grid of tightly-packed copper posts, when treated with silver nitrate, grew nanowires out in seemingly random directions that mirror the branching, interconnect neurons found in a brain.
On the atomic scale, the connections among the silver nanowires resemble synapses, which are the junctions at which two neurons meet up and transmit signals among with each other. The way that the nanowires organized themselves mirrors the sort of structures that would pop up during an MRI of a brain as it stores memories, according to ZDNet.