Six-State Memristor Opens Door to Weird Computing

A new memristor-based device could be used to build brainlike systems and base-10 computers

3 min read
Six-State Memristor Opens Door to Weird Computing
One-Way Memory: A titanium oxide nanowire acts as both a diode and a memristor.
Image: Trinity College

The newest fundamental electronic component, the mem­ristor, still holds some surprises, it seems. Since researchers built the first memristor six years ago, this mysterious device has promised a host of applications—denser nonvolatile memories,new universal logic gates, and brainlike computers,among other things. Add to these another, according to Trinity College ­Dublin ­physicists: base-10 memory.

Unlike transistor-based memories, which are designed to assume only binary states, the memristor can hold much more. The Trinity researchers constructed one that can remember six states, and there’s nothing to stop expanding that to 10 or more, they claim.

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The Ultimate Transistor Timeline

The transistor’s amazing evolution from point contacts to quantum tunnels

1 min read
A chart showing the timeline of when a transistor was invented and when it was commercialized.

Even as the initial sales receipts for the first transistors to hit the market were being tallied up in 1948, the next generation of transistors had already been invented (see “The First Transistor and How it Worked.”) Since then, engineers have reinvented the transistor over and over again, raiding condensed-matter physics for anything that might offer even the possibility of turning a small signal into a larger one.

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