'Memristors' based on transparent electronics offer technology of the future

Sep 14, 2012

(Phys.org)—The transparent electronics that were pioneered at Oregon State University may find one of their newest applications as a next-generation replacement for some uses of non-volatile flash memory, a multi-billion dollar technology nearing its limit of small size and information storage capacity.

Researchers at OSU have confirmed that zinc tin oxide, an inexpensive and environmentally benign compound, has significant potential for use in this field, and could provide a new, transparent technology where computer memory is based on resistance, instead of an .

The findings were recently published in Solid-State Electronics, a professional journal.

This resistive , or RRAM, is referred to by some researchers as a "memristor." Products using this approach could become even smaller, faster and cheaper than the that have revolutionized modern electronics – and transparent as well.

offer potential for innovative products that don't yet exist, like information displayed on an automobile windshield, or surfing the web on the glass top of a coffee table.

"Flash memory has taken us a long way with its very small size and low price," said John Conley, a professor in the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "But it's nearing the end of its potential, and memristors are a leading candidate to continue performance improvements."

Memristors have a simple structure, are able to program and erase information rapidly, and consume little power. They accomplish a function similar to transistor-based flash memory, but with a different approach. Whereas traditional flash memory stores information with an electrical charge, accomplishes this with . Like flash, it can store information as long as it's needed.

Flash memory are ubiquitous in almost all modern electronic products, ranging from cell phones and computers to video games and flat panel televisions.

Some of the best opportunities for these new amorphous oxide semiconductors are not so much for memory chips, but with thin-film, flat panel displays, researchers say. Private industry has already shown considerable interest in using them for the thin-film transistors that control liquid crystal displays, and one compound approaching commercialization is indium gallium zinc oxide.

But indium and gallium are getting increasingly expensive, and zinc tin oxide – also a transparent compound – appears to offer good performance with lower cost materials. The new research also shows that zinc can be used not only for thin-film transistors, but also for memristive memory, Conley said, an important factor in its commercial application.

More work is needed to understand the basic physics and electrical properties of the new compounds, researchers said.

Explore further: X-ray detector on plastic delivers medical imaging performance

Related Stories

New silicon memory chip developed

May 18, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The first purely silicon oxide-based 'Resistive RAM' memory chip that can operate in ambient conditions – opening up the possibility of new super-fast memory - has been developed by researchers ...

Memristor chip could lead to faster, cheaper computers

Mar 17, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The memristor is a computer component that offers both memory and logic functions in one simple package. It has the potential to transform the semiconductor industry, enabling smaller, faster, cheaper chips ...

Organic flash memory developed

Dec 17, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a non-volatile memory that has the same basic structure as a flash memory but is made from cheap, flexible, organic materials.

Recommended for you

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

48 minutes ago

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

1 hour ago

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

1 hour ago

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers.

Android gains in US, basic phones almost extinct

14 hours ago

The Google Android platform grabbed the majority of mobile phones in the US market in early 2014, as consumers all but abandoned non-smartphone handsets, a survey showed Friday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...