Scientists at the University of Southampton have developed a new standard for nanotechnology that, they claim, could transform the design makeup of future electronics.
The team of technologists claim that their research "could open the door to a new generation of electronics".
In the study, the researchers have detailed a way to improve the performance of memristors, a simpler and smaller alternative to the transistor, capable of altering its resistance and storing multiple memory states.
Traditionally, data processing in electronics has been centred on integrated circuits, which contain lots of transistors, which control the flow of electrical current by turning it on or off.
Memristors could hold the key to a new era in electronics, being both smaller and simpler in form than transistors, low-energy
Over the years, transistors have been reduced in size enabling more powerful electronic devices, but they're "now reaching their physical limit", they claim.
They point to smartphone processing chips, which now contain an average of five billion transistors.
"Memristors could hold the key to a new era in electronics, being both smaller and simpler in form than transistors, low-energy, and with the ability to retain data by 'remembering' the amount of charge that has passed through them - potentially resulting in computers that switch on and off instantly and never forget," explained the researchers.
They've generated a new type of memristor technology that's capable of storing 128 so-called 'discernible memory states'. This could transform the technology industry, they said.
To achieve this, the technologists explored several configurations of functional oxide materials, the "core component that gives the memristor its ability to alter its resistance".
Themis Prodromakis, professor of nanotechnology and EPSRC Fellow at the University of Southampton, said: "This is a really exciting discovery, with potentially enormous implications for modern electronics.
"By 2020 there are expected to be more than 200 billion inter-connected devices within the Internet of Things framework - these will generate an incredible amount of data that will need processing.
"Memristors are a key enabling technology for next-generation chips, which need to be highly reconfigurable yet affordable, scalable and energy-efficient."
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