Southampton University is leading a project focussed on enhancing modern electronics through the development of memristor technology.
Prof Themis Prodromakis from Southampton University is the principal investigator of the programme, which has received over £11m in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industrial partners.
Working with Imperial College London, Manchester University and industry colleagues, the project will centre on memristors – memory chips based on transition metal-oxides – and their ability to enable electronics systems to be configured with increased capability.
Prof Themis Prodromakis said: “Memristor technologies bring great prospects for next-generation chips, which need to be highly reconfigurable yet affordable, scalable and energy-efficient, not to mention secure.
“To achieve this, we have assembled some of the UK’s best academics and industrialists for developing the core technology as well as the required tools for demonstrating the benefits of the technology in real-working services and products.”
Traditionally, the processing of data in electronics has relied on integrated circuits featuring vast numbers of transistors.
The size of transistors has reduced to meet the increasing demands of technology, but are now reaching their physical limit.
Memristor components limit or regulate the flow of electrical current in a circuit and can remember the amount of charge that was flowing through it and retain the data, even when the power is turned off. If fully developed, the low-energy devices could hold the key to a new era in electronics as they are also smaller and simpler in form than transistors.
Southampton University has previously demonstrated a new memristor technology that can store up to 128 discernible memory states per switch, which is nearly four times more than previously reported.
Prof Themis Prodromakis said: “For decades we have followed the pattern that computers should have separate processor and memory units, but these are now struggling to cope with the masses of data in the public domain. Soon the span of functionality in future Internet of Things systems will be much wider than what we know from today’s smartphones, tablets or smart watches.
“This unique programme of activities will allow us to develop reconfigurable electronic systems that are at the forefront of innovation through being embedded almost everywhere in our physical world; within vehicles and infrastructure or even within the human body.”