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.