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 | Source: Research asia research news
Further information: www.a-star.edu.sg
More articles from Information Technology:
Software for high content drug research using live cells
23.05.2013 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Wayne State University researcher’s technique helps robotic vehicles find their way, help humans
15.05.2013 | Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
This morning at 05:45 CEST, the earth trembled beneath the Okhotsk Sea in the Pacific Northwest. The quake, with a magnitude of 8.2, took place at an exceptional depth of 605 kilometers.
Because of the great depth of the earthquake a tsunami is not expected and there should also be no major damage due to shaking.
Professor Frederik Tilmann of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences: "The epicenter is exceptionally deep, far below the earth's crust in the mantle. Such strong ...
The Ring Nebula's distinctive shape makes it a popular illustration for astronomy books. But new observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of the glowing gas shroud around an old, dying, sun-like star reveal a new twist.
"The nebula is not like a bagel, but rather, it's like a jelly doughnut, because it's filled with material in the middle," said C. Robert O'Dell of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
He leads a research team that used Hubble and several ground-based telescopes to obtain the best view yet of ...
New indicator molecules visualise the activation of auto-aggressive T cells in the body as never before
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to examine individual cells and their activity directly in the tissue.
The development of new microscopes and fluorescent dyes in ...
A fried breakfast food popular in Spain provided the inspiration for the development of doughnut-shaped droplets that may provide scientists with a new approach for studying fundamental issues in physics, mathematics and materials.
The doughnut-shaped droplets, a shape known as toroidal, are formed from two dissimilar liquids using a simple rotating stage and an injection needle. About a millimeter in overall size, the droplets are produced individually, their shapes maintained by a surrounding springy material made of polymers.
Droplets in this toroidal shape made ...
Frauhofer FEP will present a novel roll-to-roll manufacturing process for high-barriers and functional films for flexible displays at the SID DisplayWeek 2013 in Vancouver – the International showcase for the Display Industry.
Displays that are flexible and paper thin at the same time?! What might still seem like science fiction will be a major topic at the SID Display Week 2013 that currently takes place in Vancouver in Canada.
High manufacturing cost and a short lifetime are still a major obstacle on ...
24.05.2013 | Life Sciences
24.05.2013 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2013 | Physics and Astronomy
17.05.2013 | Event News
15.05.2013 | Event News
08.05.2013 | Event News