Willian Soares Cirão: PhD at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands


Neuromorphic Circuits for Novel Devices


Prof. dr. Elisabetta Chicca

Non-academic supervisor:

Dr. Stefan Abel (IBM Research – Zurich, Switzerland)


Willian is a computer scientist and early stage researcher in the field of neuromorphic computing. With both BSc and MSc in Computer Science, Willian has expertises in traditional machine learning techniques and metaheuristic optimization modeling and implementation. He believes that the key to not only understand the human brain but also to bridge the gap between current artificial and human-like intelligence is to model and build computational systems that employ principles of biological systems. Willian is currently researching computational models of learning in Spiking Neural Networks. In particular he is focusing on implementations in mixed-signal CMOS neuromorphic circuits that take advantage of novel nanodevices capabilities that go beyond current standard technology as a PhD student at the University of Groningen.

Neuromorphic Circuits for Novel Devices

This project focuses on the design of neuromorphic circuits for embedding the novel devices developed by the synthesis partners of this ETN. Key neural computational primitives are being targeted; their circuital implementation and integration with novel devices are characterized and used as building blocks for the construction of neural networks. The main part of the research will be performed at University of Groningen, the Netherlands. During the project Willian is spending the secondments at the Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany to collaborate on circuit design based on testing of SrTiO3devices (1 month) and at IBMResearch – Zurich, Switzerlandto further investigate integration needs (1 month).

The University of Groningen is the second oldest in the Netherlands. With its 6500 employees, it houses ~30000 students (incl. 3750 international students) and 1500 PhD students, 48% of whom are international. It belongs to the top 100 research universities in the world and is a member of the distinguished international Coimbra Group of European universities. The University of Groningen is in the top 3 of European research universities in the fields of Material Sciences and Chemistry.

The Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials is ranked as one of the best materials research institutes based on publication impact. It consists of approximately 250 physicists, chemists, and biologists working on fundamental leading-edge research in materials science. The research within MANIC belongs to the research initiative CogniGron (Groningen Cognitive Systems and Materials center), that joints the expertise from the Zernike Institute and that of the Bernoulli Institute for Mathematics, Computer Science and AI. A holistic approach that coordinates efforts in materials science, physics, mathematics, computer science and artificial intelligence to develop materials and systems that can learn, towards a future cognitive computer.

The Bio-Inspired Circuits and Systems research group activities include the development of physical models of cortical circuits for brain-inspired computation, learning in spiking neural networks and systems based on CMOS and/or memristive devices, bio-inspired sensing (olfaction, active electrolocation, audition, visually guided navigation) and motor control. As member of the NBS group, ESR-10 will benefit from a highly motivating and multidisciplinary research environment.