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Spintronic Memristors

Researchers have made magnetic devices that act like the recently discovered fourth circuit element

3 min read

16 March 2009—Last May, researchers at Hewlett-Packard stunned the electronics world with the demonstration of a fourth fundamental circuit element to add to the classical three. The memory resistor, or memristor, joined the resistor, the capacitor, and the inductor, closing a theoretical gap in the physics of electronic circuits. Now other researchers have created new types of memristors that rely on the magnetic properties of electrons, potentially leading to entirely new kinds of circuits that should be easy to integrate with existing electronics.

Current flowing through a memristor can alter its electrical resistance, and it retains that altered state even after the current is turned off, making it a natural for nonvolatile memory. The memristor promises the introduction of much tinier circuits, instant-on computers, and the ability to mimic the function of neurons in the human brain.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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