Memristors and green energy

Over the last 50 years or so, researchers have noticed some odd voltage characteristics, meanwhile in 1971, Dr. Leon Chua, noticed an unfilled symmetry in electromagnetic equations having to do with charge and flux and corresponding passive charge elements. He hypothesized that there was a passive element which he called a memristor whose behaviour is history-dependent, it changes its characteristics based on past current-flow history. (I got a lot of this description from Carpe Nano and I’m not entirely sure I understand the explanation. It seems to me that it’s like a chameleon; it takes on the characteristics of whatever environment it most recently enjoyed.)

Up until now, nobody realized that the odd voltage characteristics that have been observed for the last 50 years might be memristors. R. Stanley Williams, Greg Snider, Dmitri Strukov, and Duncan Stewart at HP Labs have associated these observations with Chua’s hypothesis in an article in Nature.

The reason it’s green is because it opens up the possibility of storing information that doesn’t consume energy unless it’s being read or written. (Think about your computer hard drive, it uses up energy even when you’re not actively accessing it). The memristor is a fundamental physical characteristic at the nanoscale which means we’re exploiting a capability inherent in the material. HP Labs is working on practical implementations now.

As for my quest to find Canadian nanotechnology news. I think I’m going to try something different next week because searches are not working.

2 thoughts on “Memristors and green energy

  1. Scott Jordan

    Thanks for the link to my blog, Think of the memristor as being like a resistor whose value changes with the current it has experienced flowing through it, and that its value “sticks” when no current goes through (that is, power off), and that the process is reversible. That’s not quite accurate, but the sticky behavior is the important part. It’s a way of storing information, and not just with the 0-or-1 states of conventional digital memory, though that’s one possible implementation. It can store intermediate values, too. That means one memristor can store multiple bit-states… in principle, one memristor could do the job of a whole conga-line of RAM elements. Fascinating stuff!

    –Scott Jordan
    San Jose

  2. Pingback: French want more nanotech public debates; British science oral history project « FrogHeart

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