APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Ultrahigh density digital memory
- Computing, integrated circuits
- Greater storage density than existing technology
- Reads/writes digital information at higher speeds
Scientists at Berkeley Lab have invented a class of alloy nanocrystals that can act as bits for non-volatile memory. The nanocrystal can be changed rapidly between stable states of, for example, high and low resistivity to indicate the state of the bit (0 or 1). The crystals may be incorporated into existing phase change technology and, with a size of 10 nm or less, may revolutionize the density of stored information. Either electrical or optical readout is possible.
The nanocrystals are composed of semiconductor and metal components. They can be repeatedly heated by electrical current, lasers, etc. to a liquid phase, and then cooled either quickly or relatively slowly to set their resistivity in the subsequent solid phase. The time required to change between resistive states is on the order of picoseconds and compatible with read/write function. In addition, the melting point and other physical properties of the alloy can be tuned precisely over a continuous range to ensure bit stability at room temperature and to optimize the efficiency of the phase change.
Current research on reducing the scale of bits in read/write technology is moving in the direction of phase change memory, i.e., memory fabricated by employing the resistivity change associated with crystalline versus amorphous states. However, a significant obstacle in this field has been developing compounds with melting points and resistivities that are stable at room temperature and suitable for use in computers. The Berkeley Lab invention meets these challenges.
STATUS: Published patent application US2010/034807 available at www.wipo.int. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proof of principle.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Shin,S.J., Guzman, J., Yuan, C.-W., Liao, C.Y., Boswell-Koller, C.N., Stone, P.R,. Dubon, O.D., Minor, A.M., Watanabe, M., Beeman, J.W., Yu, K.M., Ager III, J.W., Chrzan, D.C., Haller, E.E. "Embedded Binary Eutectic Alloy Nanostructures: A New Class of Phase Change Materials,"Nano Lett, (July 16, 2010).
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REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2399