by William Schmitt
He directs Purdue’s Nanoelectronics Research Laboratory, which was established in the 1990s and has been in the forefront of collaborative nanotechnology developments throughout that time. Its work, supported by an array of sponsors, extends not only to devices, but to the architecture and algorithms that can support prospective advances in devices through the new Center for Brain-Inspired Computing. There are nine universities involved in C-BRIC’s work, with about 120 Ph.D. students, according to Roy.
C-BRIC is supported by the Semiconductor Research Corp. via its Joint University Microelectronics Program (JUMP), which provides funding from diverse industrial sponsors and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The Center’s goal is to deliver key advances in cognitive computing—the launch pad for the next generation of AI—to enable new autonomous intelligent systems, such as self-flying drones and interactive personal robots. Major issues of energy efficiency, comprehensive learning, and robust autonomous performance must be addressed, he said.
Roy described how C-BRIC’s efforts with “brain-inspired” algorithms and theory, as well as neuromorphic hardware, can lead to distributed intelligence that more closely emulates they way human brains functions.
In the spirit of the Purdue Engineering Initiatives as incubators for wide-ranging engagements, Roy said his laboratory utilizes many interdisciplinary collaborations. Developments inspired by the human brain’s capabilities must bridge machine learning, computational neuroscience, theoretical computer science, hardware expertise, mathematics, applications in robotics and autonomous systems, and mechanical engineering as well as electrical engineering.
In keeping with the College of Engineering celebration of 120 years of history, Roy said Purdue has proven adept at facilitating the kind of wide-ranging expertise and cooperation that has already moved nano-scale technology far beyond original expectations. A resource already developed years ago by Purdue, now known internationally as Nanohub.com, has proven extremely valuable for cooperative innovation at the nano scale, Roy said, and the University’s leadership in the field continues.