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September 01, 2010

Rice University and Privatran silicon oxide circuits are memristors

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Memristors made from pure silicon could enable resistive random access memory (ReRAM) that are simpler and cheaper to manufacture than Hewlett-Packard Co.'s titanium-based formulation, according to researchers at Rice University. In collaboration with fabless chip design house PrivaTran Inc. the team demonstrated a proof-of-concept ReRAM that packs only 1-kbit, but which they claim can be scaled beyond the densities of flash.

By carefully crafting the voltage pulses going through it, thin layers of silicon dioxide can be made to change their resistance from near infinite to near zero, according to Rice and PrivaTran (Austin, Texas). SanDisk Corp. in fact has used this phenomenon to create write-once memories, but now Rice and PrivaTran claim to have made the process reversible, thereby enabling pure silicon ReRAMs.


In their prototype, the crossbar electrodes were made from polysilicon, enabling the entire memory array to be cast in silicon. In characterizing the all-silicon memories, the researchers found that they could switch in under 100 nanoseconds and could withstood 10,000 read/erase/write cycles, similar to flash memories, but with the possibility of going to much higher densities than flash.

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