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: Team finds elusive quantum transformations near absolute zero

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Boosting microelectronics with a little liquid logic

Aug 08, 2014

Certain titanium-based metal oxides can form a crystal structure known as perovskite that results in a subtle internal imbalance of electric charges. This imbalance gives the material the ability to flip ...

Designing exascale computers

Jul 23, 2014

"Imagine a heart surgeon operating to repair a blocked coronary artery. Someday soon, the surgeon might run a detailed computer simulation of blood flowing through the patient's arteries, showing how millions ...

Rice's silicon oxide memories catch manufacturers' eye

Jul 10, 2014

(Phys.org) —Rice University's breakthrough silicon oxide technology for high-density, next-generation computer memory is one step closer to mass production, thanks to a refinement that will allow manufacturers ...

Earth-crushing pressure? This electron spin doesn't care

Jul 09, 2014

(Phys.org) —To fully understand something, it is often instructive to view it at its extremes. How do materials behave when their bits are forced much closer together than is comfortable? How do electrons ...

Move over, silicon, there's a new circuit in town

Jun 17, 2014

(Phys.org) —When it comes to electronics, silicon will now have to share the spotlight. In a paper recently published in Nature Communications, researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering descri ...

Recommended for you

Tandem microwave destroys hazmat, disinfects

2 hours ago

Dangerous materials can be destroyed, bacteria spores can be disinfected, and information can be collected that reveals the country of origin of radiological isotopes - all of this due to a commercial microwave ...

Physicists design zero-friction quantum engine

2 hours ago

(Phys.org) —In real physical processes, some energy is always lost any time work is produced. The lost energy almost always occurs due to friction, especially in processes that involve mechanical motion. ...

Cornell theorists continue the search for supersymmetry

4 hours ago

(Phys.org) —It was a breakthrough with profound implications for the world as we know it: the Higgs boson, the elementary particle that gives all other particles their mass, discovered at the Large Hadron ...

User comments : 0