Introductory classes in electronics are big on circuit diagrams involving different combinations of resistors, capacitors and inductors. Now, researchers say that they have discovered a fourth fundamental passive circuit element, one that complements those well-known three and fills in a gap in the basic equations that describe the relationships between voltage, current, and magnetic flux. The possibility of such a circuit element, known as the ‘memristor,’ was first described in 1971, but until now no one has found a device with the properties of that missing element. A group of scientists at HP Labs found that in nanoscale materials, however, the 'memristance' property becomes easier to see.
The find could lead to lower power, instant-on computers, as well as novel types of circuitry. We'll talk with one of the discoverers of the modern memristor about the find and its potential applications.
Produced by Annette Heist, Senior Producer