Voltage Pulse Driven VO2 Volatile Resistive Transition Devices as Leaky Integrate‐and‐Fire Artificial Neurons

Zhen Xu, Ayrton A. Bernussi, Zhaoyang Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In a hardware‐based neuromorphic computation system, using emerging nonvolatile memory devices as artificial synapses, which have an inelastic memory characteristic, has attracted considerable interest. In contrast, the elastic artificial neurons have received much less attention. An ideal material system that is suitable for mimicking biological neurons is the one with volatile (or mono‐stable) resistive change property. Vanadium dioxide (VO2) is a well‐known material that exhibits an abrupt and volatile insulator‐to‐metal transition property. In this work, we experimentally demonstrate that pulse‐driven two‐terminal VO2 devices behave in a leaky integrate‐and‐fire (LIF) manner, and they elastically relax back to their initial value after firing, thus, mimicking the behavior of biological neurons. The VO2 device with a channel length of 20 μm can be driven to fire by a single long‐duration pulse (>83 μs) or multiple short‐duration pulses. We further model the VO2 devices as resistive networks based on their granular domain structure, with resistivities corresponding to the insulator or metallic states. Simulation results confirm that the volatile resistive transition under voltage pulse driving is caused by the formation of a metallic filament in an avalanche‐like process, while this volatile metallic filament will relax back to the insulating state at the end of driving pulses. The simulation offers a microscopic view of the dynamic and abrupt filament formation process to explain the experimentally observed LIF behavior. These results suggest that VO2 insulator–metal transition could be exploited for artificial neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number516
JournalElectronics (Switzerland)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Artificial neurons
  • Leaky integrate‐and‐fire
  • Neuromorphic computation
  • VO2
  • Volatile resistive transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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