Graphene Memory Arrays Are Stackable, Awesome

Graphene memory arrays in three dimensions may be possible, according to research performed at Rice University. It turns out that a tiny jolt of electricity can 'break' a strip of graphene just ten atoms thick; another jolt restores it to normal. This kind of graphene 'switch' could revolutionize data storage, making it possible to store more data in less space with less energy.

(Are graphene memory sheets possible?)

Graphene memory arrays could increase the quantity of storage in a two-dimensional array by a factor of five. Individual bits would be smaller than 10 nanometers, much smaller than the ponderous 45-nanometer circuitry in use in flash memory today. Also, the new switches could be controlled by two terminals instead of three.

Two switches is a key advance; this makes three-dimensional memory practical. Also, a graphene memory bit is essentially a mechanical device; it would consume virtually no power while keeping data intact.

What distinguishes graphene from other next-generation memories is the on-off power ratio -- the amount of juice a circuit holds when it’s on, as opposed to off. “It’s huge -- a million-to-one,” said James Tour, Rice’s Chao Professor of Chemistry as well as a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science. “Phase-change memory, the other thing the industry is considering, runs at 10-to-1. That means the ‘off’ state holds, say, one-tenth the amount of current than the ‘on’ state.”

Electrical current tends to leak from an “off” that’s holding a charge. “That means in a 10-by-10 grid, 10 ‘offs’ would leak enough to look like they were ‘on.’ With our method, it would take a million ‘offs’ in a line to look like ‘on,’’ he said. “So this is big. It allows us to make a much larger array.”

And, in the It Just Keeps Getting Better And Better department, Tour says that graphene 'switches' are significantly faster in operation, have a longer operating lifetime, and work well from minus 75 degrees to more than 200 degrees Celcius.

SF fans may recall the Schrön Loop memory storage device, from Dan Simmons 1991 novel Hyperion; it had somewhat greater capacity (and could be implanted in a person):

"A man or woman could carry AIs or complete planetary dataspheres in a Schrön loop." (More)

From James Tour’s graphene device may make massive storage practical.

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