Nano Letters

Fast Spiking of a Mott VO2-Carbon Nanotube Composite Device

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The recent surge of interest in brain-inspired computing and power-efficient electronics has dramatically bolstered development of computation and communication using neuron-like spiking signals. Devices that can produce rapid and energy-efficient spiking could significantly advance these applications. Here we demonstrate direct current or voltage-driven periodic spiking with sub-20 ns pulse widths from a single device composed of a thin VO2 film with a metallic carbon nanotube as a nanoscale heater, without using an external capacitor. Compared with VO2-only devices, adding the nanotube heater dramatically decreases the transient duration and pulse energy, and increases the spiking frequency, by up to 3 orders of magnitude. This is caused by heating and cooling of the VO2 across its insulator-metal transition being localized to a nanoscale conduction channel in an otherwise bulk medium. This result provides an important component of energy-efficient neuromorphic computing systems and a lithography-free technique for energy-scaling of electronic devices that operate via bulk mechanisms.