Digital memory enters a new phase

Mar 15, 2005

With the recent explosion in the popularity of digital music, digital photography and even digital video, the demand for faster, higher-capacity and cheaper computer memory has never been greater. Writing in the April issue of Nature Materials (DOI: 10.1038/nmat1350), Martijn Lankhorst (Philips Research Laboratories, Eindhoven, The Netherlands) and colleagues describe a new memory device that could meet this ever-growing need.

The authors' memory devices are based on the use of so-called phase-change materials similar to those used to make rewritable DVDs. These materials can be switched between two distinct structural states, or phases -- amorphous (atomically disordered) or crystalline (atomically ordered), each with different physical properties -- which can be used to record binary information. Unlike rewritable DVDs, however, the authors' devices allow this information to be recorded and read by electronic rather than optical means.

Although the idea of electronically operated phase-change memories is not new, recent advances in the development of the materials on which they are based has driven renewed commercial interest in them as a replacement to the conventional memory used in portable applications such as mobile phones and music players. In their latest work, the team not only report a new phase-change material but an entirely new device structure, allowing for substantial improvements in the speed, size, power consumption and cost of these memories.

Explore further: Black phosphorus is new 'wonder material' for improving optical communication

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Evolving robot brains

5 hours ago

Researchers are using the principles of Darwinian evolution to develop robot brains that can navigate mazes, identify and catch falling objects, and work as a group to determine in which order they should ...

Facebook fends off telecom firms' complaints

5 hours ago

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg fended off complaints on Monday that the hugely popular social network was getting a free ride out of telecom operators who host its service on smartphones.

Scientists find clues to cancer drug failure

5 hours ago

Cancer patients fear the possibility that one day their cells might start rendering many different chemotherapy regimens ineffective. This phenomenon, called multidrug resistance, leads to tumors that defy ...

Glass coating improves battery performance

5 hours ago

Lithium-sulfur batteries have been a hot topic in battery research because of their ability to produce up to 10 times more energy than conventional batteries, which means they hold great promise for applications ...

Recommended for you

Unified theory for skyrmion-materials

3 hours ago

Magnetic vortex structures, so-called skyrmions, could in future store and process information very efficiently. They could also be the basis for high-frequency components. For the first time, a team of physicists ...

Scientists provide new data on the nature of dark matter

4 hours ago

Recent research conducted by scientists from the University of Granada sheds light on the nature of dark matter, one of the most important mysteries in physics. As indirect evidence provided by its gravitational ...

Why seashells' mineral forms differently in seawater

7 hours ago

For almost a century, scientists have been puzzled by a process that is crucial to much of the life in Earth's oceans: Why does calcium carbonate, the tough material of seashells and corals, sometimes take ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.