Nanotechnology has a somewhat infamous relationship with flash memory. It has usually taken on the role as its adversary, such as in the case of Nantero or IBM’s Millipede project, and walked away with less than encouraging results.
So I was interested to see that researchers were using graphene as a platform for flash memory that appears to outperform other flash memory structures. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Researchers from UCLA, IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, Samsung Electronics, Aerospace Corporation, and the University of Queensland, led by Kang Wang, recently published in ACS Nano an article entitled “Graphene Flash Memory.” The article demonstrates that graphene may have what it takes to outperform current flash memory technology.
As I suggested in my post from last week, researchers are not breaking their backs trying to overcome graphene’s lack of band gap as much now as they are looking for ways to exploit its intrinsic strengths.
In this case, the researchers were trying to take advantage of graphene’s high density of states, high work function, and atomic thinness.
In the Nanowerk article cited above, one of the researchers, Emil B. Song, a Ph.D. student in the Device Research Laboratory at UCLA’s Electrical Engineering Department, explains.
“These unique properties provide improvements for flash memory in memory window, retention time, and cell-to-cell interference, respectively. The enhanced memory window and retention time increases the fidelity of information stored in the memory device. The reduction of cell-to-cell interference offers a solution to achieve higher-density-storage memory devices."
According to the article, Song and his colleagues believe that by using graphene’s unique characteristics that “flash memory can be further scaled beyond the 20nm node, which is what polysilicon can achieve, and result in even greater storage-density.”
Dexter Johnson is a contributing editor at IEEE Spectrum, with a focus on nanotechnology.