MemTrap News

Artificial neurons go on moth hunt

Experts at TU Dresden are working on adaptive organic insect traps

Will adaptive “terminator” sensors be able to stop all those insect infestations that otherwise destroy entire harvests in the near future? Optoelectronics and AI experts at the TUD are at least on the right track: in the “MemTrap” (memory trap) project, they want to work together to build adaptive organic terminator chips that can distinguish “good” from “bad” insects and only catch the plagues. This was announced by Prof. Stefan Mannsfeld from the Centre for Advanced Electronics Dresden (cfaed). He is driving the project forward together with Prof. Frank Ellinger and Dr. Bahman K. Boroujeni from the Chair of Circuit Technology and Network Theory.

The researchers want to link neuromorphic adaptive circuits with shape recognition sensors. These chips will be set up in a similar way to fly traps. If an insect comes flying along, the intelligent trap recognises by its outline whether it is a dangerous Gracillariidae or an busy imme, for example – and then eliminates the “bad guys” and keeps the “good guys” flying. The latter is particularly important, as the number of insects that spread pollen and thus secure harvests decreases.

Such clever insect traps would have to be adaptive and efficient on the one hand, and very cheap and space-saving on the other. They should also only consume a few nanowatts of electrical energy so that they can establish themselves in orchards or agricultural fields. This is made possible by an innovation from the TUD: photonics experts from the cfaed and the “Dresden Integrated Center for Applied Physics and Photonic Materials” (IAPP) have developed novel organic light storage devices in recent years. These “PinMOS” memories are a combination of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and capacitors. Unlike classic computer chips, they can remember not only zeros and ones, but many different digits per cell. And this data can be read and written both by current and by light. In addition, circuits with such organic memory cells can also remember and then recognise patterns – for example, the different shapes of bees and moths.

This article was published in the Dresdner Universitätsjournal 07/2021 of 20 April 2021. The complete issue can be downloaded free of charge from the UJ’s online presence at or here in pdf format.

Article by Heiko Weckbrodt