The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved functionality in a material called molybdenum ditelluride.
The two-dimensional material stacks into multiple layers to build a memory cell. Researchers at Purdue University engineered this device in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Theiss Research Inc. Their work appears in an advance online issue of Nature Materials.
Chip-maker companies have long called for better memory technologies to enable a growing network of smart devices. One of these next-generation possibilities is resistive randomaccessmemory, or RRAM for short.
In RRAM, an electrical current is typically driven through a memory cell made up of stacked materials, creating a change in resistance that records data as 0s and 1s in memory. The sequence of 0s and 1s among memory cells identifies pieces of information that a computer reads to perform a function and then store into memory again.
A material would need to be robust enough for storing and retrieving data at least trillions of times, but materials currently used have been too unreliable. So RRAM hasn't been available yet for widescale use on computer chips.
Molybdenum ditelluride could potentially last through all those cycles.