Say Goodbye to the Transistor

Published By : 03 Mar 2015 | Published By : QYRESEARCH

The transistor is a widely used electronics device in the modern world, however, its days might be numbered. The seeds for its demise were sown way back in 1971, when physicist Leon Chua thought of a fourth fundamental element in an electronic circuit. Circuits back then used to have just three. For symmetrical purposes, he believed that the construction of an extra component could allow the resistor, capacitor, and inductor to be molded into a single electrical device. He named it the ‘memristor’, a play on the words ‘memory’ and ‘resistor’. The name reveals the characteristic of the device that makes it so special: a resistor that can remember.

It took 37 years for Chua’s revolutionary idea to be morphed into reality, when Hewlett Packard built the world’s first memristor in 2008, such was the technological leap necessary for it to be real. However, once built, the memristor quickly progressed in the halls of science and is now on the brink of starting a revolution in the electronics world that could force us to change the name ‘electronics’ to something completely different: ‘ionics’.

Instead of functioning on solely the flow of electrons, which is the basis for the word ‘electronics’, a memristor combines it with ions, which are electrically charged atoms. What this could mean in practical terms is computers that could be turned on and off in a moment and eliminated the need to save any data lest the power cut out. Thanks to the very nature of ions, electrical charge at the time of the power cut and the accompanying data can be ‘stored’ in a memristor’s memory, like a RAM system that doesn’t ever shut down.

Memristors could thus be used to create chips that store much (think MUCH) more data while not consuming any more energy than conventional machines, and also, if the technological trajectory holds, to create artificial intelligence that is not bound by the binary code.
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