Close

Laser Makes Memory Mechanical

Chip-level device can record 1s and 0s in the bend of a silicon strip

3 min read

24 October 2011—Engineers at Yale University say they’ve invented a new type of mechanical memory device that is read from and written to by light. According to its creators, this development could lead to better sensors and new techniques in optical telecommunications.

The device is essentially a tiny piece of silicon that can be bent up or down by the light propagating inside a photonic circuit. Once the light is switched off, the piece remains in one of those states, representing the 1s and 0s of digital coding. The engineers from Yale who developed the device, which is called a "nanomechanical resonator," described it yesterday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Stay ahead of the latest trends in technology. Become an IEEE member.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

A Circuit to Boost Battery Life

Digital low-dropout voltage regulators will save time, money, and power

11 min read
Image of a battery held sideways by pliers on each side.
Edmon de Haro

YOU'VE PROBABLY PLAYED hundreds, maybe thousands, of videos on your smartphone. But have you ever thought about what happens when you press “play”?

The instant you touch that little triangle, many things happen at once. In microseconds, idle compute cores on your phone's processor spring to life. As they do so, their voltages and clock frequencies shoot up to ensure that the video decompresses and displays without delay. Meanwhile, other cores, running tasks in the background, throttle down. Charge surges into the active cores' millions of transistors and slows to a trickle in the newly idled ones.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less