Washington: Transparent and flexible memory chips that can shrug off temperatures twice as hot as a kitchen oven and survive other hostile conditions are likely to usher in the next-generation keychain drives, cell phones and computers.
"These new chips are really big for the electronics industry because they are now looking for replacements for flash memory," said James M. Tour, from Rice Univeristy`s Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, who led the research team.
"These new memory chips have numerous advantages over the chips today that are workhorses for data storage in hundreds of millions of flash, or thumb drives, smart phones, computers and other products.
"Flash has about another six or seven years in which it can be built smaller, but then developers hit fundamental barriers," Tour was quoted as saying in a Rice statement.
Because of the way that the new memory chips are configured, namely with two terminals per bit of information rather than the standard three terminals per bit, they are much better suited for the next revolution in electronics - 3-D memory - than flash drives.
"In order to put more memory into a smaller area, you have to stack components beyond two dimensions, which is what is currently available," he said. "You have to go to 3-D."
The work was done by Tour`s group in collaboration with Douglas Natelson, professor of physics and Lin Zhong, electrical and computer engineer. The main students on the project were Jun Yao and Javen Lin.
The transparency and small size of the new chips enables them to be used in a wide range of potential applications. Manufacturers could embed them in glass for see-through windshield displays for everyday driving, military and space uses so that not only is the display in the windshield, but also the memory.
These findings were presented at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.