Researchers find slime mold feeding fronds have memristance

Jun 20, 2013 by Bob Yirka report
An example from on the experiment inoculated with nanoparticles. After measurements, the tube has thinned, unnecessary parts have been ‘burnt off’, colour is a lighter hue. Credit: arXiv:1306.3414 [cs.ET]

(Phys.org) —Researchers at the University of the West of England have found that the feeding fronds on a type of slime mold have a property known memory resistance, which has been shortened to the term memristance. In their paper uploaded to the preprint server arXiv, the team describes how experiments on the slime mold P. polycephalum demonstrated the unique property previously only found naturally in human sweat glands, blood and some tree leaves.

Memristance, first described by Leon Chua back in 1971, is where a material has the unique property of undergoing a change in as current is applied. When applied in one direction, resistance increases; when applied in the other, it decreases. More importantly perhaps, such materials also have the remarkable ability to "remember" how much resistance was being applied when the power was turned off. When electricity is restored, the material has the same resistance it had at its prior stopping point. For that reason, researchers have been interested in finding a way to use memristance materials in computers. To date, some progress has been in creating artificial materials with memristance —a team at Hewlett Packard, for example, has been successful in creating a type of switching memristor using titanium dioxide.

To better understand how memristance materials work, researchers have turned to nature for examples. In this new effort, the researchers applied voltage to feeding frond samples of the and found that it conformed to the criteria that describe a memristance material. The finding, they suggest, should help in the development of bio- that can be grown rather than created from other materials.

The team's work builds on prior studies that have shown slime molds capable of finding the shortest path to a food source, which the researchers note could be useful in that seek to perform similar tasks. They acknowledge that it isn't likely that slime molds will one day sit at the heart of future computers systems, of course, but suggest that biological materials similar to that found in molds could one day be used to create computers unlike anything that exists today.

Explore further: The risks of blowing your own trumpet too soon on research

More information: Are Slime Moulds Living Memristors? arXiv:1306.3414 [cs.ET] arxiv.org/abs/1306.3414

Abstract
In laboratory experiments we demonstrate that protoplasmic tubes of acellular slime mould emph{Physarum polycephalum} show current versus voltage profiles consistent with memristive systems. This result complements previous findings on memristive properties of other living systems (human skin and blood and leaves) and contributes to development of self-growing bio-electronic circuits.

Related Stories

Study shows slime molds have spatial memory

Oct 09, 2012

(Phys.org)—Biology researchers from the University of Sydney, working with colleagues from Paul Sabatier Université in Toulouse have found that the brainless slime mold Physarum polycephalum, is able t ...

Slime mold prefers sleeping pills

Jun 13, 2011

In a new paper published in Nature Precedings, Andrew Adamatzky from the University of the West of England shows that slime molds like Physarum polycephalum prefers sleeping pills and their sedative effects over ...

Shrinking blob speeds traveling salesman on his way

Mar 26, 2013

(Phys.org) —What is the shortest route that a traveling salesman must take to visit a number of specified cities in a tour, stopping at each city once and only once before returning to the starting point? ...

Japan scientists hope slime holds intelligence key

Dec 28, 2011

A brainless, primeval organism able to navigate a maze might help Japanese scientists devise the ideal transport network design. Not bad for a mono-cellular being that lives on rotting leaves.

Blood simple circuitry for cyborgs

Mar 30, 2011

Could electronic components made from human blood be the key to creating cyborg interfaces? Circuitry that links human tissues and nerve cells directly to an electronic device, such as a robotic limb or artificial eye might ...

Recommended for you

Novel approach to magnetic measurements atom-by-atom

3 hours ago

Having the possibility to measure magnetic properties of materials at atomic precision is one of the important goals of today's experimental physics. Such measurement technique would give engineers and physicists an ultimate ...

Scientists demonstrate Stokes drift principle

6 hours ago

In nature, waves – such as those in the ocean – begin as local oscillations in the water that spread out, ripple fashion, from their point of origin. But fans of Star Trek will recall a different sort of wave pattern: ...

User comments : 0