Two young entrepreneurs from Delhi are trying to bring a technology which traces its roots to century old postulations by scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose and more recently envisioned by circuit theorist Leon Chua to the masses.

They think, that it will change data storage as we know it.

mlabsAt Delhi based mLabs, Varun Aggarwal & Gaurav Gandhi are devising a way to make a kind of memory device called memristor* cheaper, so that it can be used by students and inventors constrained by a budget.

Advanced laboratories such as the one at Hewlett Packard and SK Hynix are researching ways to make memristors a viable memory device. By developing a fast, inexpensive, low power non-volatile memory like memristor, it may become possible in the future to manufacture better memory devices.

Currently, memory is dominated by Flash and the technology is peaking with little scope for innovation. Like memristor, labs are working on alternative memory technologies such as CMOx, PCM & Racetrack.

The current day memristor was proposed in 1971, by circuit theorist Leon Chua, who is also guiding the duo at mLabs, their startup which wants to take science & technology to the masses. Unlike big laboratories, Aggarwal and Gandhi are interested in providing a do-it-yourself memristor to anyone and everyone interested in working with them. They hope that this will lead to many different new applications for the memristor and also help in advancing  this technology.

Says Gaurav, “As we have proved that memristor was actually observed by JC Bose in India over a century ago, it has helped to reinforce our belief and hopefully we have started to change the perception that cutting edge research cannot happen in India.”

The duo claim that they are first and the only one in the world who have been able to devise a method to produce memristor as a do-it-yourself module. Further, they have also built a kit which can be used to configure various devices in memristive mode and make applications using them.

Catwhisker

An early implementation of memristor. (Picture: mLabs)

mLabs has several working prototypes of memristor designs and is working on making more stable and robust versions of the it. The duo are also researching on taking their design to chip level.

When asked about the challenges of starting a hardware startup in India, the duo said

We saw a lot of startups emerging in India, which were a me-too version of successful American startups and we were inspired to work on something that we can potentially call “innovation” in a real sense.

The mLabs team is also working on products to get kids and young students interested in science and technology. They hope to see these products will help kids learn electronics and scientific concepts using platforms they use daily.

*What is a memristor?

A memristor is an electrical component which displays properties of memristance. Memristance is the property due to which current flow in one direction causes the resistance to increase and opposite current causes a reduction in resistance of the memristive component. When the current flow is stopped, the memristor ‘remembers’ the resistance at that instance and the resistance will be of that same value when current is made to flow again. Basically this device is a memory resistor or a type of non-volatile random access memory, or NVRAM. Marconi had used an early implementation this device in his first radio.

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