Short-term memory to long-term memory transition in a nanoscale memristor

ACS Nano. 2011 Sep 27;5(9):7669-76. doi: 10.1021/nn202983n. Epub 2011 Aug 26.


"Memory" is an essential building block in learning and decision-making in biological systems. Unlike modern semiconductor memory devices, needless to say, human memory is by no means eternal. Yet, forgetfulness is not always a disadvantage since it releases memory storage for more important or more frequently accessed pieces of information and is thought to be necessary for individuals to adapt to new environments. Eventually, only memories that are of significance are transformed from short-term memory into long-term memory through repeated stimulation. In this study, we show experimentally that the retention loss in a nanoscale memristor device bears striking resemblance to memory loss in biological systems. By stimulating the memristor with repeated voltage pulses, we observe an effect analogous to memory transition in biological systems with much improved retention time accompanied by additional structural changes in the memristor. We verify that not only the shape or the total number of stimuli is influential, but also the time interval between stimulation pulses (i.e., the stimulation rate) plays a crucial role in determining the effectiveness of the transition. The memory enhancement and transition of the memristor device was explained from the microscopic picture of impurity redistribution and can be qualitatively described by the same equations governing biological memories.