SUNY Poly prof gets $5.5M Air Force award for neuromorphic computer chips

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In a Monday announcement, SUNY Polytechnic Institute noted Empire Innovation Professor of Nanobioscience Dr. Nathaniel Cady has been awarded $5,500,000 in funding from the Rome-based Air Force Research Laboratory-Information Directorate to demonstrate adaptable and reconfigurable neural networks, computing systems that act like synapses in the human brain. 

“This will allow Dr. Cady, with SUNY Poly adjunct faculty member Dr. Karsten Beckmann and their research team, to fabricate small, low-power neuromorphic computer chips,” a release continued, “These chips will be more efficient than the types of chips currently available, and will also be able to perform complex functions while being able to learn and adapt. Once fabricated, they are to be used in a variety of U.S. military and civilian applications.”

The research - taking place primarily at SUNY Poly’s Albany campus - is part of a larger overall program with research groups from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as well as the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Work will also take place at the institution’s Utica campus as a number of faculty and students participate across both sites with the support of Steven Wood, Senior Director of Technology Applications Development at SUNY Poly for this project and also Associate Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Research Foundation for SUNY.

This research aims to fabricate, test, and deliver custom-built CMOS-based chips or wafers, the platform upon which computer chips are built. 

“As this effort progresses, the AFRL, Navy, and Army research teams will use the chips developed by SUNY Poly researchers for further R&D at their facilities across the United States, with plans to leverage the resources of the new, world-class Innovare Advancement Center, spearheaded by Griffiss Institute,” a release continues.

“AFRL is pleased to partner with Professor Cady and his team at SUNY Poly on the development of CMOS-based neuromorphic computing processors. Dr. Cady is a proven world leader in the advancement of these revolutionary brain-inspired computing architectures. Neuromorphic computing represents a new paradigm in the use of hardware-based artificial intelligence technology in Air Force information systems. This program will also utilize the amazing capabilities of the Innovare Advancement Center in Rome, NY, further strengthening the relationship between AFRL, SUNY, and the Griffiss Institute,” said Dr. Michael Hayduk,
Deputy Director of the AFRL Information Directorate,” in a statement.

In the Fall of 2018 that Cady received $500,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation to develop advanced computing systems based on a novel approach to the creation of non-volatile memory architecture. 

In 2019, Cady received
$1.7 million from the AFRL to develop next-gen computing
systems.

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