Hewlett-Packard (HP) and University of California, Santa Barbara researchers have mapped out the basic chemistry and structure of what happens inside a memristor during its electrical operation, a breakthrough that could help the development of a memory technology that some see as a replacement for conventional flash and dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) technologies.
"This improves our confidence and should allow us to improve the devices such that they are significantly better," says Stan Williams, director of the Memristor Research group at HP Labs.
HP's breakthrough involved using highly focused X-rays to pinpoint a small channel where the resistance switching occurs. The researchers were able to map out the chemistry and structure of the channel, which led to insights about how memristors operate.
Williams says that HP's memristor technology could be commercially available by the middle of 2013. Memristor-based memory technology, known as ReRAM, is one of several technologies under development that could replace flash and DRAM, which are reaching their physical limits. Unlike DRAM, ReRAM is nonvolatile, which means it retains its data when the power is turned off. Williams says that HP has built prototype ReRAM devices that can store 12 gigabytes of data per square centimeter.
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