An introduction to the memristor - a valuable circuit element in bioelectricity and bioimpedance

Gorm Krogh Johnsen


The memristor (short for memory resistor) is a yet quite unknown circuit element, though equally fundamental as resistors, capacitors, and coils. It was predicted from theory arguments nearly 40 years ago, but not realized as a physical component until recently. The memristor shows many interesting features when describing electrical phenomena, especially at small (molecular or cellular) scales and can in particular be useful for bioimpedance and bioelectricity modeling. It can also give us a richer and much improved conceptual understanding of many such phenomena. Up until today the tools available for circuit modeling have been restricted to the three circuit elements (RLC) as well as the widely used constant phase element (CPE). However, as one element has been missing in our modeling toolbox, many bioelectrical phenomena may have been described incompletely as they are indeed memristive. Such memristive behavior is not possible to capture within a traditional RLC framework. In this paper we will introduce the memristor and look at potential bioelectrical memristive phenomena. The goal is to explain the new memristor’s properties in a simple manner as well as to highlight its importance and relevance. We conclude that memristors must be included as a readily used building block for bioimpedance and bioelectrical data analysis and modeling.


memristor, bioimpedance, bioelectricity, new circuit element

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