EPSRC fund £1.4m Memristor Project
Dr Tony Kenyon's recent breakthrough research on a fundamentally different kind of computer memory chip called a 'memristor' has attracted £1.4m funding from the EPSRC in a joint project with the University of Glasgow. The project will investigate the possibility of developing resistive switches and memristors from silicon oxide. This may lead to a breakthrough in low-cost on-chip integration of Resistive Random Access Memory (RRAM) devices with Si microelectronics. To achieve that Dr Kenyon and his collaborators will carry out detailed experimental studies of switching; develop a physical switching model; apply this model to design and fabricate demonstrator devices; characterise the devices, and develop circuit-level models for systems incorporating Si RRAM and hence extend the capabilities of Si microelectronics into new domains and applications.
RRAM devices are components whose electrical resistance can be varied by applying an appropriate voltage. They are promising candidates for next generation electronic memories, offering a number of significant advantages over conventional Flash memory, including: very high packing density; fast switching; low energy switching; 3D integration to further increase memory capacity; ease of processing. Existing RRAM technologies are primarily based on metal oxide materials. However, Si-based devices have a number of advantages, including ease of integration with silicon CMOS processing technology, along with the possibility to tailor their electrical properties by varying programming voltage pulses.
RRAM devices have potential applications beyond memory: if the device resistance can be continuously varied they may behave in a similar way to neurons, and may therefore be used in novel neural networks or other processing architectures. Also, as resistive switching shares many of the features of oxide failure in CMOS devices, the results from a study of RRAM will yield valuable information that may help reduce device failure, or even recovering damaged devices.