June 4, 2009

Scientists create a flexible ‘memristor’

U.S. scientists have found a way to build a flexible memory component that might lead to electronic memory chips that can bend and twist.

National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers led by Nadine Gergel-Hackett said the device is promising, not only because of its potential applications in medicine and other fields, but because it also appears to possess the characteristics of a memristor -- a component theorized in 1971 as a fourth fundamental circuit element along with the capacitor, resistor and inductor.

The scientists said such a component could lead to small medical sensors that can be worn on the skin to monitor vital signs such as heart rate or blood sugar. Although some flexible components exist, creating flexible memory had been a technical barrier. The device created by the NIST team operates on less than 10 volts, maintains memory when power is lost and still functions after being flexed more than 4,000 times.

The research is to appear in next week's online edition of the journal IEEE Electron Device Letters and in the journal's July print issue. Another paper on the research appeared in the May 1 issue of the journal Nature.