Memristors have relatively simple behavior: they're a type of circuitry where the present resistance to current is a product of the currents that have flowed through them in the past. The more current that goes through, the easier it will travel through in the future. Interest in memristors comes in part from the fact that the resistance persists even after current is turned off, making them a possible option for non-volatile memory.
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Ref: Training and operation of an integrated neuromorphic network based on metal-oxide memristors. Nature (2015) | DOI:10.1038/nature14441
Despite much progress in semiconductor integrated circuit technology, the extreme complexity of the human cerebral cortex, with its approximately 1014 synapses, makes the hardware implementation of neuromorphic networks with a comparable number of devices exceptionally challenging. To provide comparable complexity while operating much faster and with manageable power dissipation, networks based on circuits combining complementary metal-oxide-semiconductors (CMOSs) and adjustable two-terminal resistive devices (memristors) have been developed. In such circuits, the usual CMOS stack is augmented with one or several crossbar layers, with memristors at each crosspoint. There have recently been notable improvements in the fabrication of such memristive crossbars and their integration with CMOS circuits, including first demonstrations of their vertical integration. Separately, discrete memristors have been used as artificial synapses in neuromorphic networks. Very recently, such experiments have been extended to crossbar arrays of phase-change memristive devices. The adjustment of such devices, however, requires an additional transistor at each crosspoint, and hence these devices are much harder to scale than metal-oxide memristors, whose nonlinear current–voltage curves enable transistor-free operation. Here we report the experimental implementation of transistor-free metal-oxide memristor crossbars, with device variability sufficiently low to allow operation of integrated neural networks, in a simple network: a single-layer perceptron (an algorithm for linear classification). The network can be taught in situ using a coarse-grain variety of the delta rule algorithm to perform the perfect classification of 3 × 3-pixel black/white images into three classes (representing letters). This demonstration is an important step towards much larger and more complex memristive neuromorphic networks.