Arizona State University’s Center for Applied Nanoionics (CANi) has a new take on old memory, one that promises to boost the performance, capacity and battery life of consumer electronics from digital cameras to laptops. Best of all, it is cheap, made from common materials and compatible with just about anything currently on the market.
“In using readily available materials, we’ve provided a way for this memory to be made at essentially zero extra cost, because the materials you need are already used in the chips — all you have to do is mix them in a slightly different way,” said Michael Kozicki, director of CANi.
Most memory today stores information as charge; in the binary language of computers, this means that an abundance of charge at a particular site on a chip translated as a “one,” and a lack of charge is translated as a “zero.” The problem with such memory is that the smaller its physical size, the less charge it can reliably store.
Resistance-based memory, on the other hand, does not suffer from this problem and can even store multiple bits on one site. Moreover, once the resistance is set, it does not change, even when the power is switched off. (persistent memory)
Researchers have been approaching the problem from two directions, either trying to leapfrog to the next generation of memory, or refining current memory. CANi took both approaches, amping up performance via special materials while also switching from charge-based storage to resistance-based storage.