Jun 21, 2019 by News Staff / Source
An oxide-free, floating-gate memory cell invented and patented by Lancaster University researchers promises to transform daily life with its ultra-low energy consumption.
Device structure: (a) schematic of the processed device with control gate (CG), source (S) and drain (D) contacts (gold); the red spheres represent stored charge in the floating gate (FG); (b) details of the layer structure within the device. In both (a, b) InAs is colored blue, AlSb gray and GaSb dark red. Image credit: Tizno et al, doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45370-1.
The new memory device is the realization of the search for a ‘Universal Memory’ which has preoccupied scientists and engineers for decades.
“Universal Memory, which has robustly stored data that is easily changed, is widely considered to be unfeasible, or even impossible,” said Lancaster University’s Professor Manus Hayne .
“But this device demonstrates its contradictory properties.”
Professor Hayne and his colleagues used quantum mechanics to solve the dilemma of choosing between stable, long-term data storage and low-energy writing and erasing.
The new device would immediately reduce peak power consumption in data centers by a fifth.
It would also allow, for example, computers which do not need to boot up and could instantaneously and imperceptibly go into an energy-saving sleep mode — even between key stokes.
It could replace the $100B market for Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), which is the ‘working memory’ of computers, as well as the long-term memory in flash drives.
While writing data to DRAM is fast and low-energy, the data is volatile and must be continuously ‘refreshed’ to avoid it being lost: this is clearly inconvenient and inefficient.
Flash stores data robustly, but writing and erasing is slow, energy intensive and deteriorates it, making it unsuitable for working memory.
“The ideal is to combine the advantages of both without their drawbacks, and this is what we have demonstrated,” Professor Hayne said.
“Our device has an intrinsic data storage time that is predicted to exceed the age of the Universe, yet it can record or delete data using 100 times less energy than DRAM.”
The device is described in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports.
Ofogh Tizno et al. 2019. Room-temperature Operation of Low-voltage, Non-volatile, Compound-semiconductor Memory Cells. Scientific Reports 9, article number: 8950; doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45370-1
Thanks to: http://www.sci-news.com