Memristors...Made of Blood?

A test of human blood suggests it exhibits memristor-like properties

1 min read
Memristors...Made of Blood?

Just in time for April Fools' day, a team has announced they’ve tested human blood, and it exhibits all the characteristics of the newcomer to the circuits family: the memristor.

Only it’s no April Fools' joke. S.P. Kosta of the Education Campus Changa in Gujarat, India and colleagues have published a paper in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics showing that human blood changes its electrical resistance depending on how much voltage is applied. It also seems to retain memory of this resistance for at least five minutes.

The team says that makes human blood a memristor: the fourth in the family of fundamental circuit elements that includes the resistor, the capacitor, and the inductor. Proposed in 1971, the memristor's existence wasn't proven until 2008, when HP senior fellow Stanley Williams and colleagues demonstrated a memristor device made of doped titanium dioxide.

Unlike other circuit components, the memristor has the ability to remember its previous state even when there's no current running across it. That property makes it a good candidate for memory devices that can be powered down without losing information.

This isn’t the first biological connection with memristors. Because the connections between neurons in the brain seem to exhibit some memristive behavior, memristors are considered a potential way to build devices that mimic neural systems.

Kosta and colleagues seem to have more therapeutic applications, like neuroprosthetics, in mind. “The study is exploratory in nature, but it opens up new vistas in treatment of human diseases by simple human body tissue-based electron circuit technology,” the team writes in the paper. According to the team’s press release, their next step will be to create small memristor devices that confine the blood to small channels. They'll try to combine them to carry out “logic functions”.

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Perhaps the most far-reaching technological achievement over the last 50 years has been the steady march toward ever smaller transistors, fitting them more tightly together, and reducing their power consumption. And yet, ever since the two of us started our careers at Intel more than 20 years ago, we’ve been hearing the alarms that the descent into the infinitesimal was about to end. Yet year after year, brilliant new innovations continue to propel the semiconductor industry further.

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