Even more remarkable was the discovery that totally different types of signals could be generated depending on the slightly different characteristics the individual prototypes (Figure 2). For example, the researchers recorded trains of spikes quite similar to what is found in biological neurons. They also found situations in which the rings "fought each other" to the point of almost completely suppressing their activity: this phenomenon is called "oscillation death."
"This circuit draws its beauty from a really essential shape and principle, and simplicity is key to realizing large systems operating collectively in a harmonious manner, especially when it enriched by small differences and imperfections, such as those found in the realized circuits," says Dr. Ludovico Minati, lead author of the study. The team believes in its future ability to be a building block for many different applications. They will work on integrating this circuit with sensors to, for example, measure chemical properties in the soil. Additionally, they will create networks of these oscillators on single computer chips interconnected in manners that resemble biological neural circuits. They hope to realize certain operations while consuming many times less power than a traditional computer.