Memristor was first postulated by Leon Chua in 1971 as a missing non-linear passive two-terminal electrical component relating electric charge and magnetic flux linkage. It was mostly unknown for 37 years until HP reported a man-made memristor in a seminal paper in “Nature” 2008. After that, a new wave of research was triggered not only in electric devices and circuits, but also in a wide range of scientific disciplines such as biological science and botany.

In the Jan 2015 issue of Proceedings of the IEEE, researchers in Hong Kong University along with Prof Leon Chua published an interesting paper which pushed the first man-made memristor back to 1801. They re-examine the history and found that the famous Carbon Arc discharge experiment done by UK scientist Humphry Davy (the earliest written record of electrical artificial lighting and cornerstone of artificial lighting technology), was actually a memristor.

Basically, they recreate the carbon discharge setup with modern AC voltage source and verified that the carbon arc discharge exhibits the three fingerprints of a memristor.

  1.  the Lissajous curve in the voltage–current plane is a pinched hysteresis loop when driven by any bipolar periodic voltage or current with zero mean for any initial conditions;
  2. beyond a certain threshold frequency, the area of each lobe of the pinched hysteresis loop shrinks as the frequency of the forcing signal
  3. as the frequency tends to infinity, the hysteresis loop degenerates to a straight line or a single-valued curve through the origin, whose slope depends on the amplitude and shape of the forcing


It surely added more weight to this already famous experiment in science history.

The First Man-Made Memristor Can Be Traced Back To 1801

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