Memristors Go Biological

For the first time, researchers use proteins to create bipolar memristive nanodevices

2 min read

Memristors Go Biological

It seems that ever since the riddle of the elusive memristor was solved, it has been on a track for commercial development. This probably is in no small part due to the fact that research was done at HP and not at the University of Wherever.

As a result, we seem to have been on a commercialization watch ever since.  

It’s been just three years since the memristor was identified, so if statistical norms of commercialization are in place we can expect another four years of waiting before we see this material in our Smartphones. In fact, this timeline is pretty close to HP’s expectations of 2014 as a target date for incorporation into electronic devices.

During this time, researchers have not been and will not be sitting on their hands while engineers work out scalability and yields. One of the issues that researchers have been investigating is whether biomaterials like proteins will exhibit the same memristive phenomena found in materials such as metal oxides, chalcogenides, amorphous silicon, carbon, and polymer-nanoparticle composites.

In a Spotlight piece over at Nanowerk: “Researchers in Singapore have now demonstrated that proteins indeed can be used to fabricate bipolar memristive nanodevices. This work provides direct proof that natural biomaterials, especially redox proteins, could be used to fabricate solid-state devices with transport junctions and can be the core component in the development of bioelectronic devices.”

"Previous work on memristors were based on man-made inorganic/organic materials, so we asked the question whether it is possible to demonstrate memristors based on natural materials," Xiaodong Chen, an assistant professor in the School of Materials Science & Engineering at Nanyang University, tells Nanowerk in the article cited above. "Many activities in life exhibit memory behavior, and substantial research has focused on biomolecules serving as computing elements, hence, natural biomaterials may have potential to be exploited as electronic memristors."

The research, which was published in the Wiley journal Small, used the protein ferritin in combination on-wire lithography to fashion memristors.

"The programmable resistive switches were due to the electrochemical processes in the active centre of ferritin" explains Chen. "In addition, we demonstrated that such ferritin-based nanodevices with reversible resistance can be used for nonvolatile memory based on write-read-erase cycle tests."

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