Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New memory device could offer smaller, simpler way to archive data

13.11.2003


Discovery of new property in commonly used plastic leads to invention



Engineers at Princeton University and Hewlett-Packard have invented a combination of materials that could lead to cheap and super-compact electronic memory devices for archiving digital images or other data.

The invention could result in a single-use memory card that permanently stores data and is faster and easier to use than a compact disk. The device could be very small because it would not involve moving parts such as the laser and motor drive required by CDs.


The researchers, who published a description of the device in the Nov. 13 issue of Nature, achieved the result by discovering a previously unrecognized property of a commonly used conductive polymer plastic coating. Their memory device combines this polymer, which is inexpensive and easy to produce, with very thin-film, silicon-based electronics.

"We are hybridizing," said Princeton professor of electrical engineering Stephen Forrest, who led the research group. "We are making a device that is organic (the plastic polymer) and inorganic (the thin-film silicon) at the same time."

As a result, the device would be like a CD in that writing data onto it makes permanent physical changes in the plastic and can be done only once. But it also would be like a conventional electronic memory chip because it would plug directly into an electronic circuit and would have no moving parts. "The device could probably be made cheaply enough that one-time use would be the best way to go," Forrest said.

The research was done in Forrest’s lab by former postdoctoral researcher Sven Möller, who is now at HP in Corvallis, Ore. Craig Perlov, Warren Jackson and Carl Taussig, scientists at HP Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., are also co-authors of the Nature paper.

Möller made the basic discovery behind the device by experimenting with polymer material called PEDOT, which is clear and conducts electricity. It has been used for years as an antistatic coating on photographic film, and more recently as an electrical contact on video displays that require light to pass through the circuitry. Möller found that PEDOT conducts electricity at low voltages, but permanently loses its conductivity when exposed to higher voltages (and thus higher currents), making it act like a fuse or circuit breaker.

This finding led the researchers to use PEDOT as a way of storing digital information. Digital images and all computerized data are stored as numbers that are written as long strings of ones and zeroes. A PEDOT-based memory device would have a grid of circuits in which all the connections contain a PEDOT fuse. A high voltage could be applied to any of the contact points, blowing that particular fuse and leaving a mix of working and non-working circuits. These open or closed connections would represent zeros and ones and would become permanently encoded in the device. A blown fuse would block current and be read as a zero, while an unblown one would let current pass and act as a one.

This grid of memory circuits could be made so small that, based on the test junctions the researchers made, 1 million bits of information could fit in a square millimeter of paper-thin material. If formed as a block, the device could store more than one gigabyte of information, or about 1,000 high-quality images, in one cubic centimeter, which is about the size of a fingertip.

Developing the invention into a commercially viable product would require additional work on creating a large-scale manufacturing process and ensuring compatibility with existing electronic hardware, a process that might take as little as five years, Forrest said.

Research that combines expertise on both "hard" and "soft" materials, such as the silicon and polymer materials in Forrest’s memory device, represents a major strength at Princeton and is the focus of the newly established Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials. The institute includes scientists and engineers from a wide range of disciplines and seeks to combine basic science and commercial partnerships.

Funding for Forrest’s research came in part from HP as well as from the National Science Foundation through a long-term grant that funds a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Princeton. Princeton University has filed for a patent on the invention. HP has an option to license rights to the technology.

Steven Schultz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.princeton.edu/

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet
18.08.2017 | Aalto University

nachricht Superconductivity research reveals potential new state of matter
17.08.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>