Research team claims it has developed a silicon memristor

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Researchers from the University of Barcelona, University College London and the French National Centre for Scientific Research have found a new technique to develop memristors. The approach is said to be compatible with existing microelectronics technology and, as a result, has the potential to be commercialised.

The existence of the memristor was postulated by Professor Leon Chua in 1971, but it wasn't until 2008 that HP Labs' research Stan Williams produced a device based on titanium dioxide. Blas Garrido, pictured, Professor of electronics at the University of Barcelona, said: "Memristors would allow much faster memories, with more capacity and less energy consumption." Estimates suggest that capacity could increase by a factor of 10 and power consumption could decrease by two orders of magnitude. The research, part of the European Light amplifiers with nanoclusters and erbium (LANCER) project, can create a silicon based memristor under ambient temperature and pressure. Prof Garrido noted: "The technique would allow a cmos device to be developed that is compatible with current technology." The University of Barcelona, which is patenting the technique, has designed the device, as well as performing electronic and optical characterisation. In the device, which works at a molecular level, multilayer structures form conductive pathways when external fields are applied. In this case, researchers have worked with silicon oxide films of about 15 and 120nm. When a current is applied, the device allows switching between two stable states: ON (low resistance) and OFF (high resistance). "The current required by this device is much lower than that currently used in microprocessors and, as a result, energy dissipation is significantly reduced," said Prof Garrido.