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The Logic Behind the Memristor

The fourth elemental circuit component will both compute and store data, but on its own terms

2 min read

13 April 2010—The memristor is as fundamental an electronic component as the resistor, the inductor, and the capacitor. Still, it hasn’t even been two years since a group of researchers at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, in Palo Alto, Calif., reported that they were the first group to produce such a component—which means there’s a lot more to learn. But in research reported last week in Nature, R. Stanley Williams and his collaborators at HP provided a glimpse into what they’ve learned so far.

The component’s use in computer memory was a foregone conclusion. The memristor can reversibly change its resistance depending on how much current flows through it. The researchers’ surprising new discovery is that a memristor can handle either data storage or logical computation depending on the amount and duration of the current sent through it. Three memristors can complete a NAND operation, the researchers report, so any Boolean function can be implemented if you string enough of the devices together.

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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
LightGreen

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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