Atomic switches are nanoionic devices that control the diffusion of metal cations and their reduction/oxidation processes in the switching operation to form/annihilate a metal atomic bridge, which is a conductive path between two electrodes in the on-state. In contrast to conventional semiconductor devices, atomic switches can provide a highly conductive channel even if their size is of nanometer order. In addition to their small size and low on-resistance, their nonvolatility has enabled the development of new types of programmable devices, which may achieve all the required functions on a single chip. Three-terminal atomic switches have also been developed, in which the formation and annihilation of a metal atomic bridge between a source electrode and a drain electrode are controlled by a third (gate) electrode. Three-terminal atomic switches are expected to enhance the development of new types of logic circuits, such as nonvolatile logic. The recent development of atomic switches that use a metal oxide as the ionic conductive material has enabled the integration of atomic switches with complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) devices, which will facilitate the commercialization of atomic switches. The novel characteristics of atomic switches, such as their learning and photosensing abilities, are also introduced in the latter part of this review.
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