Researchers funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation have created a new electronic component that could replace flash storage. This memristor could also be used one day in new types of computers.
Two IT giants, Intel and HP, have entered a race to produce a commercial version of memristors, a new electronics component that could one day replace flash memory (DRAM) used in USB memory sticks, SD cards and SSD hard drives.
“Basically, memristors require less energy since they work at lower voltages,” explains Jennifer Rupp, professor in the Department of Materials at ETH Zurich and holder of a SNSF professorship grant. “They can be made much smaller than today’s memory modules, and therefore offer much greater density. This means they can store more megabytes of information per square millimetre.” But currently memristors are only at the prototype stage.
Less rigid computing
Along with her chemist colleague Markus Kubicek, Jennifer Rupp has built a memristor based on a slice of perovskite just 5 nanometres thick.(*) And the interesting thing is that she has shown that the component has three stable resistive states. As a result, it can not only store the 0 or 1 of a standard bit, but can also be used for information encoded by three states – the 0, 1 and 2 of a “trit”.
“Our component could therefore also be useful for a new type of IT that is not based on binary logic, but on a logic that provides for information located ‘between’ the 0 and 1,” continues Jennifer Rupp. “This has interesting implications for what is referred to as fuzzy logic, which seeks to incorporate a form of uncertainty into the processing of digital information. You could describe it as less rigid computing.”
Another potential application is neuromorphic computing, which aims to use electronic components to reproduce the way in which neurons in the brain process information. “The properties of a memristor at a given point in time depend on what has happened before,” explains Jennifer Rupp. “This mimics the behaviour of neurons, which only transmit information once a specific activation threshold has been reached.”
Primarily, the researchers at ETH Zurich have characterised in great detail the ways in which the component works by conducting electro-chemical studies. “We were able to identify the carriers of electrical charge and understand their relationship with the three stable states,” explains the researcher. “This is extremely important knowledge for materials science which will be useful in refining the way the storage operates and in improving its efficiency.”
The fourth component
The principle of the memristor was first described in 1971, as the fourth basic component of electronic circuits (alongside resistors, capacitors and inductors). Since the 2000s, researchers have suggested that certain types of resistive memory could act as memristors.
(*) M. Kubicek, R. Schmitt, F. Messerschmitt and J.L.M. Rupp (2015), Uncovering Two Competing Switching Mechanisms for Epitaxial and Ultra-Thin Strontium Titanate-Based Resistive Switching Bits, ACS Nano, doi/10.1021/acsnano.5b02752.
(Available for journalists in PDF from the SNSF: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Professor Jennifer L.M. Rupp
Hönggerbergring 64 (HPP P 21)
Tel: +41 44 633 04 51
Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Cutting edge research for the industries of tomorrow – DFKI and NICT expand cooperation
21.03.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI
Molecular motor-powered biocomputers
20.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences