Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Data storage: A fast and loose approach improves memory

An unconventional design for a nanoscale memory device uses a freely moving mechanical shuttle to improve performance

A loose and rattling part in your cell phone is generally a cause for concern. Like most other electronic devices, your phone works by moving electrons through fixed circuit pathways. If electrons are not sufficiently contained within these pathways, the efficiency and speed of a device decrease.

However, as the miniature components inside electronic devices shrink with each generation, electrons become harder to contain. Now, a research team led by Vincent Pott at the A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics, Singapore, has designed a memory device using a loose and moving part that actually enhances performance1.

The loose part is a tiny metal disk, or shuttle, about 300 nanometers thick and 2 micrometers long, and lies inside a roughly cylindrical metal cage. Because the shuttle is so small, gravity has little effect on it. Instead, the forces of adhesion between the shuttle and its metal cage determine its position. When stuck to the top of its cage, the shuttle completes an electrical circuit between two electrodes, causing current to flow. When it is at the bottom of the cage, the circuit is broken and no current flows. The shuttle can be moved from top to bottom by applying a voltage to a third electrode, known as a gate, underneath the cage.

Pott and co-workers suggested using this binary positioning to encode digital information. They predicted that the forces of adhesion would keep the shuttle in place even when the power is off, allowing the memory device to retain information for long periods of time. In fact, the researchers found that high temperature — one of the classic causes of electronic memory loss — should actually increase the duration of data retention by softening the metal that makes up the shuttle memory's disk and cage, thereby strengthening adhesion. The ability to operate in hot environments is a key requirement for military and aerospace applications.

The untethered shuttle also takes up less area than other designs and is not expected to suffer from mechanical fatigue because it avoids the use of components that need to bend or flex — such as the cantilevers used in competing mechanical memory approaches. In a simulation, Pott and co-workers found that the shuttle memory should be able to switch at speeds in excess of 1 megahertz.

The next steps, the researchers say, include designing arrays of the devices and analyzing fabrication parameters in detail. If all goes well, their novel device could compete head-to-head with the industry-standard FLASH memory.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Microelectronics

Pott, V., Li, C. G., Vaddi, R., Tsai, J. M.-L. & Kim, T. T. The shuttle nanoelectromechanical nonvolatile memory. IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices 59, 1137–1143 (2012).

A*STAR Research | Research asia research news
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Green Light for Galaxy Europe
15.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Tokyo Tech's six-legged robots get closer to nature
12.03.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>