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Researchers have created the world's first flexible memristor, which could one day be used as a memory device in MP3 players and other electronics.  (Source: NIST)

Researcher Nadine Gergel-Hackett manufacturers one of the memristors, using an inexpensive new deposition method. The new manufacturing technique is somewhat like making Jello.  (Source: NIST)

The resulting memristor is flexible, and includes all the great perks of memristors, including low voltage requirements and holding its state (memory) when powered off.  (Source: NIST)
Element could be used in MP3 players and other mobile devices

HP made headlines when it developed the memristor, a long-theorized, but never proven fourth electronic circuit element.  Called by some the "holy grail" of electronics research, the element held great promise for creating cheaper, more efficient memory

Since the development memristor research has boomed, and researchers with the National Institute of Standards and Technology now have reported an exciting development -- a flexible memristor.  To develop it, research combined polymer sheets (similar chemically and physically to transparencies) and titanium dioxide (a common ingredient in sunscreen).  Best of all, rather than using expensive deposition equipment for the titanium dioxide, an experimental sol gel process was used.  Under this process, the material in liquid form is spun, then allowed to set into a solid, similar to Jell-O.

States NIST researcher Nadine Gergel-Hackett, "We wanted to make a flexible memory component that would advance the development and metrology of flexible electronics, while being economical enough for widespread use.  Because the active component of our device can be fabricated from a liquid, there is the potential that in the future we can print the entire memory device as simply and inexpensively as we now print a slide on an overhead transparency."

Intriguingly, while the researchers did not set out to create a memristor, it appears they have created one.  A memristor is technically a resistor that changes its resistance depending on the amount of current that is sent through it—and retains this resistance even after the power is turned off.  It is considered a fourth circuit element in addition to resistors, capacitors, and inductors.  The device indeed holds the properties of a memristor, and the team appears to have created the first flexible memristor.

The resulting memristor can run on only 10 volts and maintains memory even when powered off.  It was flexed 4,000 times and still remained functionality.

The researchers now plan to fully explore the possibilities of the patent-pending technology.  They hope to also find applications for the new technology, including memory for flexible MP3 players and for flexible medical sensors, such as heart rate or blood sugar monitors. 

A paper on the research has been published in the journal IEEE Electron Device Letters.



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well
By MrPoletski on 6/4/2009 9:11:39 AM , Rating: 3
ten volts isn't what I'd call low voltage, but I guess this thing is still in development.

more funding!




RE: well
By Cubexco on 6/4/2009 9:26:46 AM , Rating: 3
Isn't it all relative?
For an object just being developed, 10 volts is pretty close to the battery powered realm.
Kinda like superconductors, where Liquid Nitrogen cooled superconductors are often refered to as High Temperature SuperConductors! :)


RE: well
By spunlex on 6/4/2009 10:33:34 AM , Rating: 2
Not if they plan to make memory chips out it. 10 volts is very high compared to current memory technologies


RE: well
By mindless1 on 6/6/2009 12:10:53 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, relatively speaking no other electrical components need so high as 10V, unless talking about CCFL backlighting. Even so, it is not uncommon to have power regulation circuits in devices so one is a boost instead of buck circuit.

The real question is cost and memory density, if it does not beat existing flash tech on both fronts, it may not be all that great a tech for items that have other earlier points of failure. Drop an MP3 player and it isn't the lack of flash chip flexibility that's likely to kill it. We might even argue that the last thing a rigid circuit board with many other non-flexible parts on it needs is a memory chip that can flex.

I'm sure there are good applications, just doubting the consumer electronics products we already have are some of them.


RE: well
By AnnihilatorX on 6/4/2009 11:04:56 AM , Rating: 2
When they get the size down voltage requirement would drop as electric field strength is inversely proportional to separation distance between two elements.


RE: well
By neo64 on 6/5/2009 2:36:40 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
as electric field strength is inversely proportional to separation distance

if by electric field strength you were referring to the voltage, then i'm sorry but reducing the size of the device will increase the field strength requirement according to your inverse proportionality


RE: well
By MrPoletski on 6/8/2009 6:15:57 AM , Rating: 2
no, by electric field strength he is referring to the electric field strength, not the voltage. By reducing the parts size the field strength will have had less distance to decay by 1/r^2 so therefore it's strength at the other side will increase. Being as you want it constant this will allow you to reduce your voltage.


RE: well
By stephenfs on 6/4/2009 11:25:18 AM , Rating: 2
Everything I work on goes inside cell phones, so Vin never goes above 4.2v. Max specs are usually 6.5v before you start to break down the devices in the silicon.
CPUs run on little more than 1v, you can build faster transistors at lower voltages. Depending on the app, I don't see 10v as a problem.


RE: well
By soydios on 6/4/2009 1:07:47 PM , Rating: 2
I think that the idea is to replace the capacitors in DRAM with these memristors.


RE: well
By clovell on 6/4/2009 2:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
Right - in which case, we'd like to see ~2v suffice.


RE: well
By Ammohunt on 6/4/2009 3:53:27 PM , Rating: 2
Voltage means very little what kind of amperage does it require.


RE: well
By MrPoletski on 6/8/2009 6:17:33 AM , Rating: 2
It does if the resistance is known and constant ;)


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