Atomic level information recording using ions

    Mirko Hansen examines fabricated memory cells in a clean room at Kiel University.

    Scientists from Kiel and Ruhr Universities (Germany) have discovered a new method of storing information in which ions are used to write data and electrons are used to read. As a result, it becomes possible to abandon the traditional model in electronic devices. This paves the way for unprecedented miniaturization of storage devices. They can go literally to the atomic level.

    Traditional memory technologies involve the displacement of electrons by applying voltage, but this configuration is almost at the limit in terms of future development. Therefore, industry and academia are currently exploring a universal solution that would provide for minimal electron movement.

    Specialists from the University of Kiel and Ruhr are researching devices that operate due to electrical resistance. They developed a component from Nb / Al / Al2O3 / NbxOy / Au, which is capable of working on such lines. Its scheme is shown in the illustration. If voltage is applied, the resistance of the memory cell changes.

    The component includes two metal electrodes separated by a so-called solid ion conductor. What is characteristic, the components of the system are made in such a way that they are not only easy to produce, but can also be reduced practically to the size of an atom.

    Professor Hermann Kohlstedt, head of the nanoelectric group at the University of Kiel, in an interview with Nanoweek says that this device "moves more here and there than calculated."

    If you create memory cells at the atomic level, this will not only advance electronics forward, but will even create a simulator of the human brain.

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