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Scientists Discover New Circuit Element Called ‘meminductor’

A group of scientists has announced the discovery of a brand new circuit element known as the meminductor. 

Before we get into the new research led by Texas A&M University, a little background on the circuits is in order. 

Electrical circuits are ubiquitous in our daily lives but complicated to comprehend. Take a look around you; you can easily find examples of it. At the most basic level, switchboards assist us in turning on lights. Then there are more complex ones, such as those found in our cars and computers. 

However, the invention dates back 200 years (around 1800), and the fundamentals have remained largely unchanged since then. And this began to change in 2008.

The past developments

A circuit consists of three major elements that direct and control the flow of electricity through an electrical circuit. These elements are resistors, capacitors, and inductors. Each of these serves a different purpose, such as storing energy or restricting the flow of electricity. 

Scientists perceived that there was more to the world of circuitry. This curiosity led to the discovery of two new circuit elements in 2008 and 2019: the memristor and, later, the memcapacitor. This had a significant impact on the circuitry. 

“Those two discoveries set the world a little bit on its head as far as electrical engineering,” said H. Rusty Harris, one of the researchers of this new study, in a press release. 

These terms blend the word “memory” with resistor and capacitor. This is because their “current and voltage properties are dependent on previous values of current or voltage in time, like a memory.”

The discovery new circuit element 

The previous two discoveries caused researchers, including Harris and other researchers, to think. 

“All of the sudden, we thought we had three, but now we found these two others. And so that led us to think, ‘OK, there’s got to be more then, but how do we understand what they are? How do we map all of these things relative to each other?’ And it turns out, there is a relationship between each of the resistors and its family and each of the capacitors and its family,” added Harris.

The team experimented using a tool called a two-terminal passive system. This aided them in proving the presence of a new element called a meminductor. 

According to the statement, this circuit system primarily comprised an electromagnet and two permanent magnets. They investigated the density and strength of a magnetic field flux traveling through an inductor. 

The team confirmed the existence of a “mem” state (memory-like nature) within the inductor through this experimentation. The authors highlight that this development is “by the same definition that the memristor and memcapacitor were realized.”

The discovery of this new element could pave the way for developing the next generation of electronics.

The findings have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Study abstract:

The first intentional memristor was physically realized in 2008 and the memcapacitor in 2019, but the realization of a meminductor has not yet been conclusively reported. In this paper, the first physical evidence of meminductance is shown in a two-terminal passive system comprised primarily of an electromagnet interacting with a pair of permanent magnets. The role of series resistance as a parasitic component which obscures the identification of potential meminductive behavior in physical systems is discussed in detail. Understanding and removing parasitic resistance as a “resistive flux” is explored thoroughly, providing a methodology for extracting meminductance from such a system. The rationale behind the origin of meminductance is explained from a generalized perspective, providing the groundwork that indicates this particular element is a realization of a fundamental circuit element. The element realized herein is shown to bear the three required and necessary fingerprints of a meminductor, and its place on the periodic table of circuit elements is discussed by extending the genealogy of memristors to meminductors.