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Memory with a Twist: NIST Develops a Flexible Memristor Video Transcript

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[1960s rock and roll music]

Back in the sixties ... everyone was doing "The Twist"

Nearly 50 years later ... engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology—or NIST—are still doing "The Twist" ... but  in the lab rather than on the dance floor.

"We've taken inexpensive, readily available materials and have been able to use them to build flexible memory that can be bent or twisted while still functioning."

Electronic components that can bend without breaking are beneficial to manufacturers because they can be used in a wide range of products.

The new technology meets the demand for flexibility ... and provides a second p otentially valuable trait as well.

"And what's really great about these chips is that they retain their memory even when the power is turned off."

To achieve this highly desired combination ... the NIST team deposits titanium dioxide ... by spinning a solution onto a plastic sheet with a single electrical contact.

The titanium dioxide is allowed to set ... becoming a thin, solid layer.

Finally ... a second electrical contact completes the system.

Creating a switch that runs on less than 10 volts ...

Retains everything stored in its memory ... power or no power ...

And still operates even after being flexed more than 4,000 times.

One potential benefit from the new technology may be a better way to keep tabs on our health.

"So, for example, these flexible devices could be used possibly to advance tiny, wearable sensors that could work 24-7 to:
    ... track blood pressure to track heart rate
    ... check for blood sugar levels
    ... or to even possibly monitor for illnesses such as the flu."
    Another potential plus for the flexible chip came as a bit of a surprise.

"So, what we discovered is that our flexible chips seem to  perform similar to a memristor ... or memory resistor ... which is a device long ago theorized but only recently demonstrated."

"And what's great about a memristor is that unlike traditional memory which has one  'on' state ... memristors an have multiple states. And this is a trait that could help advance artificial intelligence or computing."

Now that the NIST researchers have shown that their flexible memory chip works ...

[1960s rock and roll music heard]

The next step is to keep twisting ...

And find out exactly what the technology can do.

Created April 4, 2011, Updated January 3, 2017