Anyone who ever took an electronics laboratory class will be familiar with the fundamental passive circuit elements: the resistor, the capacitor and the inductor. However, in 1971 Leon Chua reasoned from symmetry arguments that there should be a fourth fundamental element, which he called a memristor (short for memory resistor). Although he showed that such an element has many interesting and valuable circuit properties, until now no one has presented either a useful physical model or an example of a memristor. Here we show, using a simple analytical example, that memristance arises naturally in nanoscale systems in which solid-state electronic and ionic transport are coupled under an external bias voltage.
One application of the memristor could be to create a new type of ultradense non-volatile random access memory (RAM) that would supplement and eventually replace today’s commonly used dynamic random access memory (DRAM). Computers using conventional DRAM lack the ability to retain information once they lose power. When power is restored to a DRAM-based computer, a slow, energy-consuming “boot-up” process is necessary to retrieve data from a magnetic disk required to run the system. In contrast, a memristor-based computer would retain its information after losing power and would not require the boot-up process, resulting in the consumption of less power and wasted time.
Another potential application of memristor technology could be the development of computer systems that remember and associate series of events in a manner similar to the way a human brain recognizes patterns. This could substantially improve today’s facial recognition technology, enable security and privacy features that recognize a complex set of biometric features of an authorized person to access personal information, or enable an appliance to learn from experience.
Prof. Leon O. Chua will extensible talk about memristor in Enginyeria i Arquitectura La Salle on December 12 at 17:00. Go here to sign up for the talk.