London: A new research has revealed that computers can be made smaller, greener and capable of processing information up to 1,000 times faster than current models by replacing silicon with 'phase-change materials' (PCMs).
Researchers from the University of Cambridge, the Singapore A*STAR Data-Storage Institute and the Singapore University of Technology and Design showed that PCM are capable of reversibly switching between two structural phases with different electrical states, one crystalline and conducting and the other glassy and insulating, in billionths of a second.
Modelling and tests of PCM-based devices have shown that logic-processing operations can be performed in non-volatile memory cells using particular combinations of ultra-short voltage pulses, which is not possible with silicon-based devices.
Researcher Stephen Elliott said that as demand for faster computers continues to increase, they are rapidly reaching the limits of silicon's capabilities, like carrying out calculations performed by most computers, mobile phones and tablets and storing the results of such calculations.
Lead author Desmond Loke added that "silicon is transient" because the information is generated, passed through and has to be stored somewhere else, but using PCM logic devices, the information stays in the place where it is generated.
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.