New Graphene Memory Revolutionary Leap in Storage?

December 17, 2008

Texas (ChattahBox) — A team at Rice University have developed a new type of memory, that could be a great leap in the amount of storage held on computers, handheld media players, cell phones and cameras compared to recent state-of-the-art flash memory and other new technologies.

Rice professor James Tour and postdoctoral researchers Yubao Li and Alexander Sinitskii describe a solid-state device that takes advantage of the conducting properties of graphene, in new research available online in Nature Materials.

Graphene memory would increase the amount of storage in a two-dimensional array by a factor of five, as individual bits could be made smaller than 10 nanometers, compared to the 45-nanometer circuitry in today’s flash memory chips. The new switches can also be controlled by two terminals instead of three, as in current chips.

Two-terminal capability makes three-dimensional memory practical as graphene arrays can be stacked, multiplying a chip’s capacity with every layer.

Being essentially a mechanical device, such chips will consume virtually no power while keeping data intact – much the same way today’s e-book readers keep the image of a page visible even when the power is off.

While generating little heat itself, graphene memory seems impervious to a wide temperature range, having been tested from minus 75 to more than 200 degrees Celsius with no discernable effect. That allows graphene memory to work in close proximity to hot processors. Better still, tests show it to be impervious to radiation, making it suitable for extreme environments.

Professor Tour said the new switches are faster than his lab’s current testing systems can measure. And they’re robust. “We’ve tested it in the lab 20,000 times with no degradation,” said Tour. “Its lifetime is going to be huge, much better than flash memory.”

Best of all, the raw material is very common as graphene is a form of carbon.

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