In trying to bring brain-like (neuromorphic) computing closer to reality, researchers have been working on the development of memory resistors, or memristors, which are resistors in a circuit that ‘remember’ their state even if you lose power.
Today, most computers use random access memory (RAM), which moves very quickly as a user works but does not retain unsaved data if power is lost. Flash drives, on the other hand, store information when they are not powered but work much slower. Memristors could provide a memory that is the best of both worlds: fast and reliable.
“Previously there was a work by Mark Hersam’s group on memristor effect in monolayer MoS2 in a planar configuration, Deji Akinwande, an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, tells Nanowerk. “This prior work has inspired us to consider vertical sandwich structures for memristors because of the massively higher density and scalability. However, everyone we consulted doubted such an effect could be possible in a vertical configuration because the active layer spacing between metal electrodes is less than 1 nanometer, so leakage current will kill the device.”
In new work, published in Nano Letters (“Atomristor: Nonvolatile Resistance Switching in Atomic Sheets of Transition Metal Dichalcogenides”), Akinwande and his team discovered non-volatile memory effect in atomically thin 2D materials such as MoS2. This effect is similar to memristors or RRAM in metal oxide materials. This experimental work is supported by preliminary calculations.
These devices can be collectively labeled atomristor, in essence, memristor effect in atomically thin nanomaterials or atomic sheets.