MIT Silicon Synapse

Last updated: Aug 14, 2012

The MIT Silicon Synapse is a silicon chip built by researchers at MIT that models the ion channels in a single biological synapse.

The chip contains around 400 transistors and operates using analog signals, not digital. The electical current flows through the transistors just as ions flow through ion channels in a neuron.

The chip was built by AMI Semiconductor using a 1.5 µm process. This process was first achieved in 1982. Higher-density processes could be used in future at higher cost.

The researchers plan to use the chip to investigate how biological synapses are strengthened and weakened (long-term potentiation and long-term depression), and to build larger systems that model neural functions such as the visual system.



  • Chi-Sang Poon - HST Principal Research Scientist -
  • Guy Rachmuth -
  • Mark Bear - Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT -
  • Harel Shouval - University of Texas Medical School -