Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Data storage: Keeping the heat on

09.06.2011
Better insulation makes phase-change memory work faster and more efficiently

The perfect data storage solution should offer fast access to data, maintain data in the absence of external power, and be able to withstand large numbers of read–write cycles.

Phase-change random access memory (PCRAM), a type of non-volatile memory that uses the amorphous and crystalline states of phase-change materials for encoding data, can satisfy all of these criteria. Unfortunately, PCRAM also tends to have impractically high power requirements that have impeded its application in many devices. Desmond Loke and co-workers at the A*STAR Data Storage Institute have now demonstrated a technology that could help reduce the power requirements of PCRAM[1].

The high power requirements of PCRAM are a consequence of the high heat levels necessary to drive the transformation between the crystalline and amorphous phases. This heat in turn usually requires relatively large current pulses, which also makes it difficult to integrate with small transistors. Loke and co-workers designed their PCRAM to make the most of this generated heat by replacing the dielectric that surrounds the phase-change material with a material that also acts as a high-performance thermal insulator.

Most dielectric materials, such as silicon dioxide (SiO2) and aluminum oxide (Al2O3), are not particularly good thermal insulators. Conversely, most thermal insulators, such as the amorphous phase-change material germanium antimony telluride (Ge2Sb2Te5), are not very good electrical insulators. The researchers got the best of both worlds by developing a periodic dielectric structure, known as a superlattice-like (SLL), for integration into the PCRAM. The SLL dielectric, which comprises alternating layers of SiO2 and Ge2Sb2Te5 (see image) each just 2–3 nanometers thick, is both a good thermal insulator and a good electrical insulator.

The SLL dielectric in the PCRAM device reduces heat loss from the phase-change material, allowing the phase transition to be driven more efficiently. Consequently, the resulting PCRAM needs smaller currents, less power and less time to switch between the amorphous and the crystalline states. At the same time, the excellent electrical insulation provided by the SLL dielectric prevented current-driven breakdown, leading to a device endurance of more than a billion cycles.

The researchers believe their findings could help accelerate the development of energy-efficient, high-speed PCRAM, which could replace the use of conventional types of RAM, such as flash memory, in electronic devices. “We have already identified techniques to further improve the performance of PCRAM,” says Loke. “For example, by reducing the size of the memory cell, we can expect even higher speeds and lower power consumption levels.”

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Data Storage Institute

Journal information

[1] Loke, D. et al. Superlatticelike dielectric as a thermal insulator for phase-change random access memory. Applied Physics Letters 97, 243508 (2010).

Lee Swee Heng | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/6328
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Researchers pave the way for ionotronic nanodevices
23.02.2017 | Aalto University

nachricht Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor
22.02.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>