Boffins working for the maker of very expensive printer ink have come up with breakthrough in the development of a next-generation memory technology. Memristors are touted as a potential replacement for today's widely used flash and DRAM technologies.
According to "Nanotechnology," the boffins have mapped out the basic chemistry and structure of what happens inside a memristor during its electrical operation. Other boffins have made working memristors in the labs, but did not know what was happening inside the tiny structures. HP felt it had enough to commercialise the technology and this discovery will allow it to greatly improve its performance, an HP person said.
Memristors were worked out in 1971 by a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Leon Chua. Before that there were only three basic circuit elements, the resistor, the capacitor and the inductor. Professor Leon Chua posited that there was a fourth.
HP boffins proved that memristors existed, and worked out how they could be made to switch back and forth between two or more levels of electrical resistance. The problem was that they were too hard to study because memristors are so small.
HP thinks you can get around that problem by using highly focused X-rays to pinpoint a channel, just 100 nanometers wide, where the resistance switching takes place. They then mapped out the chemistry and structure of that channel, and thus gained a better idea of how memristors operate. The paper was jointly published by HP and UC Santa Barbara.