2020-09-01 Samuel K. Moore
It combines resistance, capacitance, and what’s called a Mott memristor all in the same device. Memristors are devices that hold a memory, in the form of resistance, of the current that has flowed through them. Mott memristors have an added ability in that they can also reflect a temperature-driven change in resistance. Materials in a Mott transition go between insulating and conducting according to their temperature. It’s a property seen since the 1960s, but only recently explored in nanoscale devices.
The transition happens in a nanoscale sliver of niobium oxide in the memristor. Here when a DC voltage is applied, the NbO2 heats up slightly, causing it to transition from insulating to conducting. Once that switch happens, the charge built up in the capacitance pours through. Then the device cools just enough to trigger the transition back to insulating. The result is a spike of current that resembles a neuron’s action potential.