Ultrafast memories for flexible electronics

Tuesday, 04 April, 2017

Engineering experts from the University of Exeter have developed what they claim are the quickest, smallest, highest-capacity memories for flexible and transparent applications, using a hybrid of graphene oxide and titanium oxide. Low-cost and eco-friendly to produce, the devices are suitable for use in flexible electronic devices such as mobile phone, computer and television screens, and even intelligent clothing.

Writing in the journal ACS Nano, the researchers noted that graphene oxide (GO) resistive memories offer low-cost environmentally sustainable fabrication, high mechanical flexibility and high optical transparency.

“However, the dimensional and temporal scalability of GO memories, i.e., how small they can be made and how fast they can be switched, is an area that has received scant attention,” they wrote. “Moreover, a plethora of GO resistive switching characteristics and mechanisms has been reported in the literature, sometimes leading to a confusing and conflicting picture.”

The study authors set out to address this confusion, creating hybrid memories that are just 50 nm long and 8 nm thick, which can be written to and read from in less than 5 ns. Lead author Professor David Wright noted that this is in contrast to previous graphene oxide memories, which have typically been “very large, slow, and aimed at the ‘cheap and cheerful’ end of the electronics goods market”.

The researchers say their devices offer a cheaper and more adaptable alternative to flash memory, which is currently used in devices such as memory cards, graphics cards and USB computer drives. They also claim their memories have the potential to not only revolutionise how data is stored, but also to take flexible electronics to a new age in terms of speed, efficiency and power.

“Being able to improve data storage is the backbone of tomorrow’s knowledge economy, as well as industry on a global scale,” said study co-author Professor Monica Craciun. “Our work offers the opportunity to completely transform graphene-oxide memory technology and the potential and possibilities it offers.”

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