As technology moves forward, things get smaller, faster, and now possibly transparent. A team of scientists has developed transparent, flexible memory chips that may one day replace flash drives and other personal data storage devices.
New memory chips that are transparent, flexible enough to be folded like a sheet of paper, shrug off 1,000-degree
Speaking at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, he said devices with these chips could retain data despite an accidental trip through the drier — or even a voyage to “These new chips are really big for the electronics industry because they are now looking for replacements for flash memory,” said James M. Tour, Ph.D., who led the research team. “These new memory chips have numerous advantages over the chips today that are workhorses for data storage in hundreds of millions of flash, or thumb drives, smartphones, computers, and other products. Flash has about another six or seven years in which it can be built smaller, but then developers hit fundamental barriers.”
Because of the way that the new memory chips are configured, namely with two terminals per bit of information rather than the standard three terminals per bit, they are much better suited for the next revolution in electronics — 3-D memory — than flash drives.
“In order to put more memory into a smaller area, you have to stack components beyond two dimensions, which is what is currently available,” he said. “You have to go to 3-D.” And the chips have a high on-off ratio, which is a measure of how much electrical current can flow in the chip when it stores information versus when it is empty. The higher the ratio, the more attractive the chips are to manufacturers.
The chips were originally composed of a layer of
Current touch screens are made of indium tin oxide and glass, both of which are brittle and can break easily. However, plastic containing the memory chips could replace those screens with the added bonuses of being flexible while also storing large amounts of memory, freeing up space elsewhere in a phone for other components that could provide other services and functions. Alternatively, storing memory in small chips in the screen instead of within large components inside the body of a phone could allow manufacturers to make these devices much thinner.
The easy-to-fabricate memory chips are patented, and Tour is talking to manufacturers about embedding the chips into products.
The scientists acknowledged funding from the Texas Instruments Leadership University Fund, the National Science Foundation Award No. 0720825 and the Army Research Office through the SBIR program administrated by PrivaTran, LLC.
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