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"The Basic Electronic Components: Finding the Missing Memristor" -- Stanley Williams, HP Laboratories

Presentation Slides: "Finding the Missing Memristor" (800 kB PDF)

WEDNESDAY, February 11, 2009

  • 2151 Laurelwood Rd (Fwy 101 at Montague Expressway), Santa Clara, (408) 346-4620 -- click map at right.

        The existence of a fourth passive circuit element was proposed by Prof. Leon Chua of UC Berkeley in 1971 from fundamental symmetry arguments unifying resistance, inductance and capacitance equations. Although he showed that such a ‘memristor’ had many interesting and useful circuit properties, until this year no one had presented a physical model nor material example of such an element. In fact, memristance arises naturally in systems for which electronic and atomic transport are coupled under an external bias voltage. A simple analytical model shows that the nonlinear term that determines the magnitude of memristance is inversely proportional to the square of the thickness of the active device, and demonstrates that such nonlinear behavior is much more important and prevalent for electronic devices with nanoscale dimensions. These results serve as the foundation for understanding a wide range of hysteretic current-voltage behavior observed over the past 50 years in many electronic devices that involve the motion of atoms, vacancies or molecular components. We have built nanoscale titanium dioxide memristors in our laboratory and have demonstrated many of their electrical properties and potential uses, including new forms of logic circuits. These devices can rather easily be integrated into electronic circuits using conventional materials available in standard CMOS fabrication facilities.

        Useful references:

  • What is a Memristor? (HP Labs)
  • Wikipedia, on "Memristor"
  • NPR Interview with Stanley Williams (podcast, 5/9/2008)
  • Original Chua article on the Memristor (from IEEE Transactions on Circuit Theory, vol.18, no.5, pp. 507-519, Sep 1971)
  • SPECTRUM Magazine article (6.4 MB, December, 2008)

    Speaker Biography:
    R. Stanley Williams is an HP Senior Fellow at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and Director of the Information and Quantum Systems Laboratory (IQSL), which currently has over 80 scientists and engineers working in areas of fundamental physical sciences and engineering. There are four active HP Senior Fellows out of a total technical staff of 40,000 in Hewlett-Packard Company. He received a B.A. degree in Chemical Physics in 1974 from Rice University and his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from U. C. Berkeley in 1978. He was a Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Labs from 1978-80 and a faculty member (Assistant, Associate and Full Professor) of the Chemistry Department at UCLA from 1980–1995. He joined HP Labs in 1995 to found the Quantum Science Research group, which focused primarily on fundamental research at the nanometer scale. His primary scientific research during the past thirty years has been in the areas of solid-state chemistry and physics, and their applications to technology. This has evolved into the areas of nanostructures and chemically-assembled materials, with an emphasis on the thermodynamics of size and shape. Most recently, he has examined the fundamental limits of information and computing, which has led to his current research in nano-electronics, -ionics, -mechanics and -photonics. In 2008, a team of researchers he led announced that they had built and demonstrated a memristor, the fourth and final fundamental electronic circuit element, complementing and completing the capacitor, resistor and inductor. He has received awards for business, scientific and academic achievement, including the 2007 Glenn T. Seaborg Medal for contributions to Chemistry, the 2004 Joel Birnbaum Prize (the highest internal HP award for research), the 2004 Herman Bloch Medal for Industrial Research, the 2000 Julius Springer Award for Applied Physics, the 2000 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, the Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award and the Sloan Foundation Fellowship. He was named to the inaugural Scientific American 50 Top Technology leaders in 2002 (and then again in 2005). In 2005, the US patent collection that he has assembled at HP was named the world's top nanotechnology intellectual property portfolio by Small Times magazine, and the Chinese Academy of Science voted the crossbar latch invented in his lab as the third most significant scientific breakthrough of the year (behind the Cassini and Deep Impact space missions). He was a co-organizer and co-editor (with Paul Alivisatos and Mike Roco) of the workshop and book "Vision for Nanotechnology in the 21st Century", respectively, that led to the establishment of the U. S. National Nanotechnology Initiative in 2000. He has been awarded 77 US patents with more than forty pending, he has published over 300 papers in reviewed scientific journals (with an h-index of 48), and he has written several general articles for technical, business and popular publications (including an article in the Nov. 2005 issue of Scientific American). One of his patents was named as one of five that will "transform business and technology" by MIT's Technology Review in 2000. He has presented hundreds of invited plenary, keynote and named lectures at international scientific, technical and business events, including one of the 2007 50th Anniversary Laureate Lectures for the TMS, the 2003 Joseph Franklin Lecture at Rice University, the 2004 Debye Lectures at Cornell University, the 2004 Bloch Lecture at the University of Chicago, and the 2005 Carreker Engineering Lecture at Georgia Tech.

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