Wednesday, February 03, 2010

USPTO Orders Reexamination of HP's Memristor Patent

The "memristor" has attracted a lot of attention in recent years as a new nanoscale circuit element having properties similar to neural synapses and which is a contender for a new form of non-volatile memory called RRAM. The origins of the memristor go back to a theoretical concept developed by UC Berkeley professor Leon Chua in the 1970s but which lacked a physical material example. In 2008, researchers from HPLabs reported in the journal Nature a solid state version of the memristor capable of being integrated into CMOS electronics processing.

However, it turns out that the material described by HPLabs in the Nature paper (based on a bilayer of oxygen depleted TiO2) was actually patented by researchers from Samsung and not HP. More recently, the one patent that Hewlett-Packard does hold related to the memristor has been ordered for reexamination (Control # 90/009,633) by the USPTO based on earlier work by researchers at the University of Houston. This is bad news for Hewlett-Packard but may be good news for competing companies such as Adesto Technologies, Numonyx, and Unity Semiconductor which are developing alternative materials for RRAM and phase change memory products.

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