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
Football through the eyes of a computer
14.06.2018 | Universität Konstanz
People recall information better through virtual reality, says new UMD study
14.06.2018 | University of Maryland
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
19.06.2018 | Life Sciences
19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy