Researchers from Germany, Switzerland and Italy have demonstrated that turning graphene into nanoribbons using V2O5 nanofibers as etching masks not only dramatically improves their memory storage density over silicon-based chips but also surpasses carbon nanotubes and graphene in their transition times.The research, which was initially published in the Wiley journalSmall, demonstrated that by depositing V2O5 nanofibers on top of graphene and then etching it with argon ion beam they were able to produce graphene nanoribbons that were less than 20 nm wide. This process also produced ribbons with smoother edges than are typically found with lithography techniques, resulting in devices made from them that have better performance characteristics. The key to the nanoribbon’s memory storage density is that small memory cell. And according to Roman Sordan of the Politecnico di Milano, and one of the researchers on this project, that grapehene nanoribbons shrink these down to 10 nm scale.
“Indeed, the area of our new memory cell is so small that it allows for a very high storage density,” Sordan said in a story published by nanotechweb.org. “We thus expect that graphene nanoribbon memory chips will allow Moore's law to continue for the foreseeable future.”According to Sordan in the same article, the device produced from these graphene nanoribbons has a transition time three orders of magnitude shorter than those devices made from either carbon nanotubes or graphene. In addition, Sordan believes the versatility of these memory cells will open differenct application areas. “They can be used as both static random access memories and nonvolatile flash memories cell for ultrahigh storage density applications,” he says in the article. Now that memory has been addressed the researchers are going to look at how their nanoribbons can be applied to digital logic gates. “We have already made graphene logic gates but think that those made from nanoribbons will be better,” says Sordan.