Battery and memory device in one: Future nanoelectronic information storage devices are also tiny batteries

Posted on April 25, 2013
Configuration of a resistive storage cell (ReRAM): An electric voltage is built up between the two electrodes so that the storage cells can be regarded as tiny batteries. Filaments formed by deposits during operation may modify the battery's properties. Credit: Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA)

Configuration of a resistive storage cell (ReRAM): An electric voltage is built up between the two electrodes so that the storage cells can be regarded as tiny batteries. Filaments formed by deposits during operation may modify the battery’s properties. Credit: Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA)

Resistive memory cells (ReRAM) are regarded as a promising solution for future generations of computer memories. They will dramatically reduce the energy consumption of modern IT systems while significantly increasing their performance. Unlike the building blocks of conventional hard disk drives and memories, these novel memory cells are not purely passive components but must be regarded as tiny batteries. This has been demonstrated by researchers of Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA), whose findings have now been published in the prestigious journalNature Communications. The new finding radically revises the current theory and opens up possibilities for further applications. The research group has already filed a patent application for their first idea on how to improve data readout with the aid of battery voltage.

Conventional data memory works on the basis of electrons that are moved around and stored. However, even by atomic standards, electrons are extremely small. It is very difficult to control them, for example by means of relatively thick insulator walls, so that information will not be lost over time. This does not only limit storage density, it also costs a great deal of energy. For this reason, researchers are working feverishly all over the world on nanoelectronic components that make use of ions, i.e. charged atoms, for storing data. Ions are some thousands of times heavier that electrons and are therefore much easier to ‘hold down’. In this way, the individual storage elements can almost be reduced to atomic dimensions, which enormously improves the storage density.

Read more at: Phys.org