Computers will be storing memory like never before, thanks to the following discovery. In a major breakthrough, researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have optimized nanowire-based charge-trapping memory devices that can lead to portable computers and cell phones which operate for days between charging sessions. These devices can supposedly improve computer memory.
The nascent technology is reportedly based on silicon formed into tiny wires, around 20 nanometers in diameter. These ‘nanowires’ probably form the basis of memory that is non-volatile holding its contents even while the power is off. This mechanism appears very much similar to the flash memory in USB thumb drives and many mp3 players. Such nanowire devices can apparently store information faster and at lower voltage.
“Cache memory stores the information a microprocessor is using for the task immediately at hand. It has to operate very quickly, and flash memory just isn’t fast enough. If we can find a fast, non-volatile form of memory to replace what chips currently use as cache memory, computing devices could gain even more freedom from power outlets—and we think we’ve found the best way to help silicon nanowires do the job,” commented NIST physicist Curt Richter.
These devices may be also capable of holding an additional advantage over flash memory, which despite its uses is unsuitable for one of the most crucial memory banks in a computer. During the research, scientists employed NIST’s talents at measurement to ascertain the best way of designing charge-trapping memory devices based on nanowires. These devices are supposedly surrounded by thin layers of material termed as dielectrics that store electrical charge.
Due to a combination of software modeling and electrical device characterization, the NIST and GMU team was presumably able to explore a wide range of structures for the dielectrics. The research findings purportedly create a platform for experimenters around the world to further investigate the nanowire-based approach to high-performance non-volatile memory.