Scientists at the University of Texas have produced the smallest memory chip in the world, which is only one nanometer in diameter.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, scientists describe the control of physics that allows dense storage of memory, which allowed them to make such a tiny chip.
When a single additional metal atom enters a hole in the nanoscale and fills it, it gives part of its conductivity to the material, and this leads to a change or memory effect – explained Deji Akinwande, co-author of the study.
Although they used the compound molybdenum disulfide, also known as MoS2, as their primary nanomaterial in their research, the researchers believe the discovery could be applied to hundreds of related thin atom-sized materials.
“Smaller processors allow manufacturers to make computers and phones more compact,” the researchers said, adding that reducing chips also reduce their power needs and increases capacity.
- That means faster and smarter devices that need less energy to work – they explain.
The new chip is based on a discovery they introduced a few years ago, a device called the “atomistor”, which was once the smallest storage device in the world, which is now even smaller.
- The scientific holy grail for scaling descends to the level at which one atom controls the function of memory, and we have achieved that in a new study – states Akinwande.
The new device belongs to the category of memristors, an area of memory research, centered around electrical components with the ability to change resistance between its two terminals without the need for a third terminal in the middle.
According to researchers, such devices may be smaller than currently used memory devices and have a higher storage capacity. They also point out that the new memristor promises a capacity of about 25 terabytes per square centimeter, which is about 100 times the memory density per layer compared to commercially available flash memory devices.