Watch a Memory Bit Switch in Real Time

Microscope footage shows ferroelectric memory behaves in an unexpected way

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As a replacement for today’s DRAM and flash memory, ferroelectric materials have many desirable characteristics. But to get a better sense of how ferroelectric bits behave on the nanoscale, Xiaoqing Pan of the University of Michigan and his colleagues used a high-resolution transmission electron microscope to watch the switching process in action. They’ve found the switching starts in an unexpected place and can be started with less power than anticipated.

IEEE Spectrum Associate Editor Rachel Courtland speaks with Pan about the new results and the team’s footage of the switching process. A paper on the team’s findings was published in the November 18 issue of Science.