A Memristor is an electrical component that limits or regulates the flow of electrical current in a circuit and remembers the amount of charge that has previously flowed through it. Memristors are important because they are non-volatile, meaning that they retain information unlike volatile memory (RAM).

Memory without power Memristors, which are considered to be a sub-category of resistive RAM, are one of several storage technologies that have been predicted to replace flash memory.

Scientists at HP Labs built the first working memristor in 2008 and since that time, researchers in many large IT companies have explored how memristors can be used to create smaller, faster, low-power computers that do not require data to be transferred between volatile and non-volatile memory. If the storage heirarchy could be flattened by replacing DRAM and hard drives with memristors, it would theoretically be possible to create analog computers capable of carrying out calculations on the same chips that store data.

The memristor first appeared in a 1971 paper published by Professor Leon Chua, a distinguished faculty member in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department of the University of California Berkeley.

Chua described and named the memristor, arguing that it should be included along with the resistor, capacitor and inductor as the fourth fundamental circuit element. The memristor has properties that cannot be duplicated by any combination of the other three elements.

Although researchers had observed instances of memristance for more than 50 years, the proof of its existence remained elusive – in part because memristance is much more noticeable in nanoscale devices. The crucial issue for memristance is that the device’ atoms need to change location when voltage is applied, and happens much more easily on nanoscale.

Some faction of the researchers and scienists are trying to replace combination of RAM and Hard Disk with memristors, which would be intended to play the role of both. Lets see what the future holds for Memristors …

Ref: Wiki on Memristors , Memristor research reference