Silicon Valley startup Rolltronics has developed a nanoscale thin film memory that stores data in molecule-sized cylinders capable of retaining information even when power is swithched off.
The company's NanoMem technology has the potential to store 10 to 100 times more data in the same space as current flash memory and can be produced at a much lower cost, the company said.
Rolltronics is hoping it will be able to turn out 10 feet of plastic circuitry per minute with each transistor measuring about 5 microns in size. At this rate, the company would produce 150,000 transistors per minute.
John Sheats, chief technology officer for Rolltronics, explained that the NanoMem technology works on a very simple principle.
"Data is stored in the molecules that self-assemble into cylindrical stacks in a sheet of plastic that is about one micron thick," he said. "The data is written in a low-voltage opto-electronic process that traps an electrical charge in the molecules of the plastic."
Rolltronics expects to ship products based on the roll-to-roll technology within two years. One possibility is a smartcard that could display a bank customer's account balance in real time.
Another would be a powerful, lightweight ebook-style reading device with a resolution matching a laser printer and low power requirements that let it run on a thin-film battery for weeks or months, the company said.
Prototypes of the new memory technology, developed and tested at the University of Texas in Austin, revealed zero detectable data loss after 7,000 hours without power and zero data degradation after 1.5 billion read-write cycles.
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