Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New silicon memory chip may offer super-fast memory

Date:
May 18, 2012
Source:
University College London
Summary:
The first purely silicon oxide-based "resistive RAM" memory chip that can operate in ambient conditions -- opening up the possibility of new super-fast memory -- has now been developed.

A photo of the UCL ReRAM device.
Credit: UCL/Adnan Mehonic

The first purely silicon oxide-based 'Resistive RAM' memory chip that can operate in ambient conditions -- opening up the possibility of new super-fast memory -- has been developed by researchers at UCL.

Resistive RAM (or 'ReRAM') memory chips are based on materials, most often oxides of metals, whose electrical resistance changes when a voltage is applied -- and they "remember" this change even when the power is turned off.

ReRAM chips promise significantly greater memory storage than current technology, such as the Flash memory used on USB sticks, and require much less energy and space.

The UCL team have developed a novel structure composed of silicon oxide, described in a recent paper in the Journal of Applied Physics, which performs the switch in resistance much more efficiently than has been previously achieved. In their material, the arrangement of the silicon atoms changes to form filaments of silicon within the solid silicon oxide, which are less resistive. The presence or absence of these filaments represents a 'switch' from one state to another.

Unlike other silicon oxide chips currently in development, the UCL chip does not require a vacuum to work, and is therefore potentially cheaper and more durable. The design also raises the possibility of transparent memory chips for use in touch screens and mobile devices.

The team have been backed by UCLB, UCL's technology transfer company, and have recently filed a patent on their device. Discussions are ongoing with a number of leading semiconductor companies.

Dr Tony Kenyon, UCL Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: "Our ReRAM memory chips need just a thousandth of the energy and are around a hundred times faster than standard Flash memory chips. The fact that the device can operate in ambient conditions and has a continuously variable resistance opens up a huge range of potential applications.

"We are also working on making a quartz device with a view to developing transparent electronics."

For added flexibility, the UCL devices can also be designed to have a continuously variable resistance that depends on the last voltage that was applied. This is an important property that allows the device to mimic how neurons in the brain function. Devices that operate in this way are sometimes known as 'memristors'.

This technology is currently of enormous interest, with the first practical memristor, based on titanium dioxide, demonstrated in just 2008. The development of a silicon oxide memristor is a huge step forward because of the potential for its incorporation into silicon chips.

The team's new ReRAM technology was discovered by accident whilst engineers at UCL were working on using the silicon oxide material to produce silicon-based LEDs. During the course of the project, researchers noticed that their devices appeared to be unstable.

UCL PhD student, Adnan Mehonic, was asked to look specifically at the material's electrical properties. He discovered that the material wasn't unstable at all, but flipped between various conducting and non-conducting states very predictably.

Adnan Mehonic, also from the UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: "My work revealed that a material we had been looking at for some time could in fact be made into a memristor.

"The potential for this material is huge. During proof of concept development we have shown we can programme the chips using the cycle between two or more states of conductivity. We're very excited that our devices may be an important step towards new silicon memory chips."

The technology has promising applications beyond memory storage. The team are also exploring using the resistance properties of their material not just for use in memory but also as a computer processor.

The work was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Adnan Mehonic, Sébastien Cueff, Maciej Wojdak, Stephen Hudziak, Olivier Jambois, Christophe Labbé, Blas Garrido, Richard Rizk, Anthony J. Kenyon. Resistive switching in silicon suboxide films. Journal of Applied Physics, 2012; 111 (7): 074507 DOI: 10.1063/1.3701581

Cite This Page:

University College London. "New silicon memory chip may offer super-fast memory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120518132549.htm>.
University College London. (2012, May 18). New silicon memory chip may offer super-fast memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120518132549.htm
University College London. "New silicon memory chip may offer super-fast memory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120518132549.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Argentina's Tax Evaders Detected, Hunted Down by Drones

Argentina's Tax Evaders Detected, Hunted Down by Drones

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) Argentina doesn't only have Lionel Messi the footballer, it has now also acquired "Mesi" the drone system which monitors undeclared mansions, swimming pools and soy fields to curb tax evasion in the country. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CERN Celebrates 60 Years of Science

CERN Celebrates 60 Years of Science

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 29, 2014) CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, celebrates 60 years of bringing nations together through science. As Joanna Partridge reports from inside the famous science centre it's also planning to turn the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator back on after an upgrade. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
This 'Invisibility Cloak' Is Simpler Than Most

This 'Invisibility Cloak' Is Simpler Than Most

Newsy (Sep. 28, 2014) Researchers from the University of Rochester have created a type of invisibility cloak with simple focal lenses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins