Researchers at HP have solved the 37-year mystery of the memory resistor, the missing 4th circuit element.

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Researchers at HP have solved the 37-year mystery of the memory resistor, the missing 4th circuit element.

Post  Soleil on Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:54 am

Anyone familiar with electronics knows the trinity of fundamental components:
1.The Resistor.
2.The Capacitor.
3.The Inductor.
In 1971, a University of California, Berkeley, an engineer predicted that there should be a fourth element: a memory resistor, or memristor. But no one knew how to build one. Now, 37 years later, electronics has finally gotten small enough to reveal the secrets of that fourth element. The memristor, Hewlett-Packard researchers revealed today in the journal Nature, had been hiding in plain sight all along—within the electrical characteristics of certain nanoscale devices. They think the new element could pave the way for applications both near- and far-term, from nonvolatile RAM to realistic neural networks.

The memristor's story starts nearly four decades ago with a flash of insight by IEEE Fellow and nonlinear-circuit-theory pioneer Leon Chua. Examining the relationships between charge and flux in resistors, capacitors, and inductors in a 1971 paper, Chua postulated the existence of a fourth element called the memory resistor. Such a device, he figured, would provide a similar relationship between magnetic flux and charge that a resistor gives between voltage and current. In practice, that would mean it acted like a resistor whose value could vary according to the current passing through it and which would remember that value even after the current disappeared.

The reason that the memristor is radically different from the other fundamental circuit elements is that, unlike them, it carries a memory of its past. When you turn off the voltage to the circuit, the memristor still remembers how much current was applied before and for how long. That's an effect that can't be duplicated by any circuit combination of resistors, capacitors, and inductors, which is why the memristor qualifies as a fundamental circuit element. The memristor's memory has consequences: the reason computers have to be rebooted every time they are turned on is that their logic circuits are incapable of holding their bits after the power is shut off. But because a memristor can remember voltages, a memristor-driven computer would arguably never need a reboot! “You could leave all your Word files and spreadsheets open, turn off your computer, and go get a cup of coffee or go on vacation for two weeks,” “When you come back, you turn on your computer and everything is instantly on the screen exactly the way you left it.” The HP group is also looking at developing a memristor-based nonvolatile memory. “A memory based on memristors could be 1000 times faster than magnetic disks and use much less power



Last edited by Quicksilver on Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:57 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : Try going for just one color at one time...It has a more pleasing feel. Also read the article you type, there are usually a lot of typos. I seldom get mine right before 3 revisions.)
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Soleil

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