An international team of scientists has unveiled a revolutionary memory architecture that combines silicon nanowires with a more traditional type of data storage.
This hybrid structure may be more reliable than other recently built nanowire-based memory devices and more easily integrated into commercial applications.
The technique involves the integration of nanowires with a high-end type of non-volatile memory similar to Flash, a layered structure known as semiconductor-oxide-nitride-oxide-semiconductor technology.
The nanowires are positioned using 'hands-off self-alignment', which could allow the production cost, and therefore the overall cost, of large-scale viable devices to be lower than Flash memory cards, which require more complicated fabrication methods.
Researchers grew the nanowires on a layered oxide-nitride-oxide substrate. Applying a positive voltage across the wires causes electrons in the wires to tunnel down into the substrate thereby charging it.
A negative voltage causes the electrons to tunnel back up into the wires. This process is the key to the device's memory function.
When fully charged, each nanowire device stores a single bit of information, either a '0' or a '1' depending on the position of the electrons, the scientists explained.
Two advantages the Nist design may have over alternative proposals for nanowire-based memory devices are better stability at higher temperatures and easier integration into existing chip fabrication technology.
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