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Mysterious Memristor: Electronics' Missing Link?

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Mysterious Memristor: Electronics' Missing Link?

Science

Mysterious Memristor: Electronics' Missing Link?

Mysterious Memristor: Electronics' Missing Link?

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/90289714/90289702" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Introductory electronics classes focus on circuit diagrams involving different combinations of resistors, capacitors and inductors. Now, researchers say that they have discovered a fourth fundamental passive circuit element — one that fills in a gap in the basic equations that describe the relationships between voltage, current and magnetic flux.

The possibility of such a circuit element, known as the "memristor," was first described in 1971, but no one was able to find a device with the properties of that missing element. Now, a group of scientists at HP Labs has found that in nanoscale materials, the "memristance" property becomes easier to see.

The finding could lead to lower power, instant-on computers, as well as novel types of circuitry. HP Senior Fellow Stanley Williams, one of the discoverers of the modern memristor, talks about the find and its potential applications.