World’s Smallest Memory Unit Created To Advance Energy-efficient Computer Chips

Researchers have created the smallest memory unit in the world. These memory devices can revolutionize Computer chips that are not only smaller in size but also extremely fast and Energy-efficient.

As published in the Journal, Nature Nanotechnology, the research states that the scientists decreased the size of “Atomristor” (what was then the thinnest memory storage device ever recorded), reducing the cross-sectional area to a single square nanometre. Atomristor, with the thickness of a single atomic layer, was at that time the thinnest memory storage device.

Physics behind the discovery of memory device

The scientists also found the physics in these tiny devices that unlock dense memory storage capabilities. According to these scientists from the University of Texas in the US, getting a handle on physics is what helped them make the device tinier.  

The researchers added that while knowing the physics of the device’s storage capabilities was essential, the key to unlocking it was provided by the ultrasmall holes in the material. The co-author of the study, Deji Akinwande, explained that when a single additional metal atom fills the nanoscale hole by going into it, this atom confers some of its conductivity into the material. This then leads to a memory effect through the Integrated Circuit.

The scope of the discovery

The scientists further explained that shrinking a device is not all about making downsizing but also about building the memory device with a smaller cross-sectional area.

The new memory device falls under the area of memory research known as Memristors. Memristors are centered around electrical components, which are capable of modifying resistance between their two terminals, without the requirements of a third terminal in the middle. 

Researchers state that these can boast more storage capacity and can be smaller than the Computer Memory devices used nowadays. The new memristor, according to them, can come equipped with a capacity of around 25 terabits per square centimeter. This means that ss compared to the flash memory devices that are commercially available, the new memristor has about 100 times higher memory density per layer. 


– Akinwande on the accomplishments of the study

The areas where the memory unit will be useful

The scientists used the compound MoS2 (Molybdenum Disulfide) as the primary nanomaterial for their study. They believe that this advancement in research could apply to several other related atomically thin materials. The scientists said that the discovery will make it possible for manufacturers to create phones and computers that are compact. Furthermore, they added that the smaller chips increases capacity and lessens their Energy demands. This thus results in devices that are smarter, faster, and take minimal power to operate. Additionally, these smallest Computer Memory devices will prove beneficial for brain-inspired computing as well.

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