Memristive Ion Channel-Doped Biomembranes as Synaptic Mimics

Joseph S. Najem, Graham J. Taylor, Ryan J. Weiss, Md Sakib Hasan, Garrett Rose, Catherine D. Schuman, Alex Belianinov, C. Patrick Collier, Stephen A. Sarles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Solid-state neuromorphic systems based on transistors or memristors have yet to achieve the interconnectivity, performance, and energy efficiency of the brain due to excessive noise, undesirable material properties, and nonbiological switching mechanisms. Here we demonstrate that an alamethicin-doped, synthetic biomembrane exhibits memristive behavior, emulates key synaptic functions including paired-pulse facilitation and depression, and enables learning and computing. Unlike state-of-the-art devices, our two-terminal, biomolecular memristor features similar structure (biomembrane), switching mechanism (ion channels), and ionic transport modality as biological synapses while operating at considerably lower power. The reversible and volatile voltage-driven insertion of alamethicin peptides into an insulating lipid bilayer creates conductive pathways that exhibit pinched current-voltage hysteresis at potentials above their insertion threshold. Moreover, the synapse-like dynamic properties of the biomolecular memristor allow for simplified learning circuit implementations. Low-power memristive devices based on stimuli-responsive biomolecules represent a major advance toward implementation of full synaptic functionality in neuromorphic hardware.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4702-4711
Number of pages10
JournalACS nano
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 22 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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