Saturday, November 5th 2011

R&D: Memristors And Bendy Memory

Memristors are a fourth class of electric circuit, first hypothesized way back in the 1970's, which are a new addition to the transistors, capacitors, resistors etc that go into making a silicon chip. HP has put a great deal of resources into developing this technology and is expected to release memory-like memristor products in 2013, so it's not far off from commercial deployment. Now however, the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have found a way to use memristors to make what they describe as a "fully functional" flexible resistive random access memory (RRAM). This memory is built on a plastic substrate and can be randomly accessed, written to and erased. However, as this substrate is flexible, it can be bent and rolled up easily, opening up possibilities for use that haven't even been thought of yet.

One of the big holdups for this technology being released into commercial products though, is the problem of major interference between adjacent cells. This causes the performance of such products to fall way below what is required today, as the necessary transistors cannot switch fast enough. However, the team at KAIST claim to have fixed this problem, by developing memory which isn't affected by inter-cell interference. It achieves this improvement by using the properties of memristors alongside a single-crystal silicon transistor on flexible substrates.

Keon Jae Lee from KAIST's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said that the:
result represents an exciting technology with the strong potential to realize all flexible electronic systems for the development of a freely bendable and attachable computer in the near future.
At this time, there are no performance benchmarks of this new type of memory, or information of when it will go into production, suggesting that there are still a lot of refinements still needed to make this new technology commercially viable. The research was published in the October issue of Nano Letters ACS (paywall) and the institute's website can be found here: www.kaist.edu

When this technology does finally become available, expect to see a great deal of innovative products, based on the new found freedom of physical flexibility to be made with it. Interesting times are ahead. Sources: TechEye, Tom's Hardware
Add your own comment

16 Comments on R&D: Memristors And Bendy Memory

#1
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Help please!

Tom's Hardware claims that KAIST have a press release about this. However, after much frantic googling, I couldn't find it. If you can, I'll update the news story with it.
Posted on Reply
#2
scaminatrix
Aha! Found it! That was a savage half hour browsing through korean sites!

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl203206h

Scroll down to the bottom to download the paper. Uhhh... you have to pay. Scratch that, there's gotta be a free way!
Possible replacement for D-RAM


By providing a mathematical model for the physics of a memristor, the team makes possible for engineers to develop integrated circuit designs that take advantage of its ability to retain information.

"This opens up a whole new door in thinking about how chips could be designed and operated," Williams says.

Engineers could, for example, develop a new kind of computer memory that would supplement and eventually replace today's commonly used dynamic random access memory (D-RAM). Computers using conventional D-RAM lack the ability to retain information once they are turned off. When power is restored to a D-RAM-based computer, a slow, energy-consuming "boot-up" process is necessary to retrieve data stored on a magnetic disk required to run the system.

Memristor-based computers wouldn't require that process, using less power and possibly increasing system resiliency and reliability. Chua believes the memristor could have applications for computing, cell phones, video games - anything that requires a lot of memory without a lot of battery-power drain.
]Source.

So it has the ability to retain information when "turned off"? That's a pretty good feature...
Posted on Reply
#3
Huddo93
What practical ways could this sort of memory be used?

I personally keep thinking back to the newspapers in Harry Potter and possibly being able to utilize the flexible led screens with new types of literally flexible computer.

But are there any other cool ideas that come from this?
Posted on Reply
#4
scaminatrix
by: Huddo93
What practical ways could this sort of memory be used?

I personally keep thinking back to the newspapers in Harry Potter and possibly being able to utilize the flexible led screens with new types of literally flexible computer.

But are there any other cool ideas that come from this?
When you think about it, it's not the fact that it's flexible that's the important bit, it's the technology they're fitting onto it. This memristor subject makes for a really interesting read.

This has interesting links, and BBC News reported a bit on it.

Apparently this is related but I confess I haven't read through it fully.
Posted on Reply
#5
Mussels
Moderprator
look at how much electronics dies because it was dropped, bent, or warped out of shape.


this might not be a revolution in performance or features, but it could well be used to make some very, very durable electronics.
Posted on Reply
#6
scaminatrix
by: Mussels
look at how much electronics dies because it was dropped, bent, or warped out of shape.
this might not be a revolution in performance or features, but it could well be used to make some very, very durable electronics.
Definitely. The oppurtunities that will be available to us when we're not bound by the restrictions that a non-flexible board imposes will be immense IMO. You can gain a lot of surface area by making a flat circuit board into something more rounded.

Think of a tennis ball shaped circuit board, with critical components protected on the inside and a flexible OLED screen on the outside. A small monitor that could be potentially dropped and thrown around without the fear of damage! The possibilities are mind-blowing!

But I think the whole Memristor technology thing is even more amazing.
Posted on Reply
#7
WarEagleAU
Bird of Prey
Looks like something they could include in cell phones of the future. I am sure y'all have seen them talking about (Samsung, etc) the flexible displays? Cell phones as well? This would work perfect.
Posted on Reply
#9
Drone
All this "bendy" and ultra low power stuff could be good for bionics in the future. Maybe they could even work on protonic current. That could be integrated into human brain for direct digital interface. I guess that would be the most "friendliest" interface ever. Ahh wait it's too early for that.
Posted on Reply
#10
cheesy999
by: Huddo93
What practical ways could this sort of memory be used?

I personally keep thinking back to the newspapers in Harry Potter and possibly being able to utilize the flexible led screens with new types of literally flexible computer.

But are there any other cool ideas that come from this?
or you could just roll it up and use it like normal ram and have some sort of 1TB ram chip

best feature from this will be the fact that it requires no electricity to store the data, so you can have 0W power consumption in standby mode
Posted on Reply
#11
bigboi86
This would be great for durable storage.

They could come up with some kind of "floppy disk", which would be durable and convenient.
Posted on Reply
#12
cheesy999
by: bigboi86
They could come up with some kind of "floppy disk", which would be durable and convenient.
they already have those, they just need to work on the capacity a bit
Posted on Reply
#13
Completely Bonkers
I can imagine every kind of electronic ID or credit card or mobile phone would be happy with this technology. The don't need to be the fastest, but robust and flexible and durable and washing machine proof.
Posted on Reply
#14
Mussels
Moderprator
by: Completely Bonkers
I can imagine every kind of electronic ID or credit card or mobile phone would be happy with this technology. The don't need to be the fastest, but robust and flexible and durable and washing machine proof.
future credit cards and such is a perfect example, thanks for that idea.
Posted on Reply
#15
m4gicfour
by: bigboi86
This would be great for durable storage.

They could come up with some kind of "floppy disk", which would be durable and convenient.
Floppy discs were never floppy (due to the nature of the magnetic disc inside which needed to be able to spin. Yes there were versions that were *somewhat* flexible before the 1.44MB floppies.)

Think of this: a flexible USB drive (I.E. Flexible solid-state storage). A newspaper or magazine could send video clips along with the articles.
Posted on Reply
#16
NC37
by: m4gicfour
Floppy discs were never floppy (due to the nature of the magnetic disc inside which needed to be able to spin. Yes there were versions that were *somewhat* flexible before the 1.44MB floppies.)

Think of this: a flexible USB drive (I.E. Flexible solid-state storage). A newspaper or magazine could send video clips along with the articles.
Hmmm, who was it that was working on digital paper tech...I remember seeing an article on it awhile back. But yeah, for that type of tech, this would be perfect.
Posted on Reply
Add your own comment