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Resistive Random Access Memory (RRAM/ReRAM) is a new type of memory designed to be non-volatile. It is under development by a number of companies, and some have already patented their own versions of the technology. The memory operates by changing the resistance of special dielectric material called a memresistor (memory resistor) whose resistance varies depending on the applied voltage.
RRAM is the result of a new kind of dielectric material which is not permanently damaged and fails when dielectric breakdown occurs; for a memresistor, the dielectric breakdown is temporary and reversible. When voltage is deliberately applied to a memresistor, microscopic conductive paths called filaments are created in the material. The filaments are caused by phenomena like metal migration or even physical defects. Filaments can be broken and reversed by applying different external voltages. It is this creation and destruction of filaments in large quantities that allows for storage of digital data. Materials that have memresistor characteristics include oxides of titanium and nickel, some electrolytes, semiconductor materials, and even a few organic compounds have been tested to have these characteristics.
The principal advantage of RRAM over other non-volatile technology is high switching speed. Because of the thinness of the memresistors, it has a great potential for high storage density, greater read and write speeds, lower power usage, and cheaper cost than flash memory. Flash memory cannot continue to scale because of the limits of the materials, so RRAM will soon replace flash memory.