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Memristor – An Electrical Device with Memory

by Kathy Chambers 10 Feb, 2017 in

X-ray imaging shows how memristors work at  an atomic scale
X-ray imaging shows how memristors work at
an atomic scale.  Image credit:  SLAC National
Accelerator Laboratory

A tiny device called a memristor holds great promise for a new era of electronics.  Unlike a conventional resistor, its resistance can be reset, and it remembers its resistance.  It functions in a way that is similar to synapses in the human brain, where neurons pass and receive information.  A memristor is a two-terminal device whose resistance depends on the voltages applied to it in the past.  When the voltage is turned off, the resistance remains or remembers where it was previously.  This little device actually learns.  A commercially viable memristor could enable us to move away from flash memory and silicon-based computing to smart energy-efficient computers that operate similarly to the human brain, with the capability to comprehend speech and images, and with highly advanced memory retention.

The memristor was first predicted theoretically by University of California, Berkeley professor Leon Chua in 1971 as the fourth basic electrical device element alongside the resistor, capacitor, and inductor.  He named his device a memristor—a contraction of the words “memory” and “resistor.”  Chua’s concept, as originally described, involved magnetic flux in the memristor’s operation.  But in 2008, when Richard Stanley Williams and researchers at Hewlett-Packard engineered a non-magnetic device based on other long-known material properties, their description of it in terms of Chua’s memristor concept rocked the electronics research...

Related Topics: device, electrical, memory, Memristor


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