Improved Memory Devices

"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 Arizona State University’s Center for Applied Nanoionics (CANi).

Traditional electronics begins to break down at the nanoscale – the scale of individual molecules –because pushing electronics closer together creates more heat and greater power dissipation. As consumer electronics such as MP3 players and digital cameras shrink, the need for more memory in a smaller space grows.
CANi took both approaches, amping up performance via special materials while also switching from charge-based storage to resistance-based storage. "It’s very low-energy. You can scale it down to the nanoscale. You can pack a lot of it into a small space," Kozicki said.

CANi was also able to overcome the limitations of conventional electronics by using nanoionics, a technique for moving tiny bits of matter around on a chip. Instead moving electrons among charged particles, called ions, as in traditional electronics, nanoionics moves the ions themselves.

"We’ve actually been able to move something the size of a virus between electrodes to switch them from a high resistance to a low resistance, which is great for memory," Kozicki said.

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.; Quelle: Arizona State University