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 Fraunhofer ISE Supports Market Development of Solar Thermal Power Plants in the MENA Region
21.02.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht New tech for commercial Lithium-ion batteries finds they can be charged 5 times fast
20.02.2018 | University of Warwick

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>