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Electronics 'Missing Link' ­nited With Rest of the Family


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memristors

This image shows 17 memristors in a row. The wires in this image are 50 nanometers, or about 150 atoms, wide.

Credit: J.J. Yang / HP Labs

Memristors were identified by Hewlett-Packard (HP) as the missing link of electronics 18 months ago, and since then the same team of HP researchers has upgraded a standard silicon chip with a layer of memristors to demonstrate that the component can integrate well with existing computing hardware.

Like resistors, memristors develop a resistance to electrical current that is proportional to the current passing by at any moment, while also being capable of recalling the last current they experienced. "Each memristor can take the place of seven to 12 transistors," says HP researcher Stan Williams. Furthermore, the memristor can retain its memory in the absence of power.

A memristor's memory of its last current can be read by observing how it creates a new memory in response to a new current, and these memories are fashioned from a double layer of semiconducting titanium dioxide. "The new hybrid system lifts the data-routing network and the switches out of the [complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS)] plane," Williams says. "This will greatly free up the space on the CMOS layer for more devices, effectively increasing the density of circuits" without the need for further transistor miniaturization.

Williams speculates that similarities between memristive circuits and the behavior of some simple life forms imply that the hybrid devices also could help lead to neuromorphic computing in which computers learn for themselves.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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