Mimicking Neurotransmitter Release and Long‐Term Plasticity by Oxygen Vacancy Migration in a Tunnel Junction Memristor

Hongwei Tan, Sayani Bhattacharya, QiHang Qin, Jouko Lahtinen, Sebastiaan van Dijken

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Activated by action potentials and Ca2+ ion migration, neurotransmitters in biological synapses are released from vesicles at the presynaptic membrane to the cleft and bonded to receptors on the postsynaptic membrane. The bonded neurotransmitters modify the electrochemical properties of the postsynaptic membrane and, thereby, the synaptic plasticity, which forms the basis for learning, memory, emotion, cognition, and consciousness. Here, the oxygen vacancy transport in Au/SrTiO3 (STO)/La0.67Sr0.33MnO3 (LSMO) tunnel junctions is exploited to mimic neurotransmission processes in an artificial ionic electronic device. Using voltage pulses of varying number, amplitude, and polarity, it is demonstrated that reversible oxygen vacancy migration across the STO/LSMO interface provides stable multilevel resistance switching for octal memory devices and resembles the quantal, stochastic, and excitatory or inhibitory nature of neurotransmitter release dynamics. Moreover, fundamental synaptic behaviors including long‐term potentiation/depression and various types of spike‐timing‐dependent plasticity characteristics are emulated, opening a promising biorealistic approach to the design of neuromorphic devices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1900036
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalAdvanced Intelligent Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • artificial synapses
  • ionic interface
  • long-term plasticity
  • memristors
  • neurotransmitter release
  • octal memory
  • oxide tunnel junction


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