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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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Memristors
By 2tweeked on 6/4/2009 7:44:13 PM , Rating: 2
This is good news indeed! I like the idea of being flexible. Memristors seem to have good data density, 100 gigabits per sq/cm plus being non-volatile and on par with dram in speed. I wish somebody would invent a memory device you could read/write to inductively. That way no connectors would be needed. Wimem anyone?




RE: Memristors
By DopeFishhh on 6/5/2009 9:23:34 AM , Rating: 2
I put flexible electronics in with the same group as 'smart clothing'. IE I don't have a clue as to what I would actually do with it or need it for.

If anyone can think of or has seen those technologies put to good use please reply and link us to it.


RE: Memristors
By mindless1 on 6/6/2009 12:13:51 AM , Rating: 2
What about the James Bond Smart Tennis Ball that remembers how many times it's been hit and explodes on #35?


RE: Memristors
By captchaos2 on 6/6/2009 6:14:27 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, now I can put my thumbdrive in my back pocket and not have it snap in half when I sit down. Even if they make a gummybear thumbdrive, it still has to have a metal plug. They definitely can't make gummy dimms, they'll never push onto the mobo.


RE: Memristors
By MrPoletski on 6/8/2009 6:19:44 AM , Rating: 2
How about making flexible peltier coolers and having a shirt made out of peltiers. Then you can switch the battery packs polarisation to warm you up or cool you down...

/me runs to the patent office...


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