Research published in the American Institute of Physics (AIP) journal details a new electronic memory technology capable of writing and erasing data up to 100X faster than currently used charge-storage memory products. Researchers from Taiwan National Nano Device Laboratories and University of California, Berkeley worked together on the project. The researchers describe the memory as “ultrafast metal-gate silicon quantum-dot (Si-QD) non-volatile memory (NVM)”.
To make the new memory device a layer of silicon nanodots, 3nm in diameter, is overlaid with a thin metallic layer controlling the on and off states of each dot. A precise laser fires to charge or remove charge from a dot under the metal layer, changing its state to on or off. In this way each nanodot is equivalent to a single memory bit. The use of the thin metal layer is an established technology in CMOS memory but its application combined with silicon nanodots is new.
Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan
Research co-author Jia-Min Shieh, from National Nano Device Laboratories, Hsinchu, Taiwan said: “Our system uses numerous, discrete silicon nanodots for charge storage and removal. These charges can enter (data write) and leave (data erase) the numerous discrete nanodots in a quick and simple way. The materials and the processes used for the devices are also compatible with current main-stream integrated circuit technologies.”
The speed of the data writing and erasure was demonstrated using ultra short precise bursts of green laser light. Devices using current CMOS technology will be able to have component upgrades using the new tech, suggested the researchers. The data storage provided by the process is also said to be robust, stable and long lasting because of the low thermal damage and efficient charge trapping/de-trapping of the silicon nanodots.
Having a precise green laser in memory card using devices sounds expensive compared to current tech. If that is indeed the only way this new tech will work. It will be interesting to see what the technology and faster speeds achievable are actually used for.