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New 'FeTRAM' is promising computer memory technology
Date:9/27/2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers are developing a new type of computer memory that could be faster than the existing commercial memory and use far less power than flash memory devices.

The technology combines silicon nanowires with a "ferroelectric" polymer, a material that switches polarity when electric fields are applied, making possible a new type of ferroelectric transistor.

"It's in a very nascent stage," said doctoral student Saptarshi Das, who is working with Joerg Appenzeller, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and scientific director of nanoelectronics at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center.

The ferroelectric transistor's changing polarity is read as 0 or 1, an operation needed for digital circuits to store information in binary code consisting of sequences of ones and zeroes. The new technology is called FeTRAM, for ferroelectric transistor random access memory.

"We've developed the theory and done the experiment and also showed how it works in a circuit," he said. Findings are detailed in a research paper that appeared this month in Nano Letters, published by the American Chemical Society.

The FeTRAM technology has nonvolatile storage, meaning it stays in memory after the computer is turned off. The devices have the potential to use 99 percent less energy than flash memory, a non-volatile computer storage chip and the predominant form of memory in the commercial market.

"However, our present device consumes more power because it is still not properly scaled," Das said. "For future generations of FeTRAM technologies one of the main objectives will be to reduce the power dissipation. They might also be much faster than another form of computer memory called SRAM."

The FeTRAM technology fulfills the three basic functions of computer memory: to write information, read the information and hold it for a long period of time.

"You want to hold memory as long
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Contact: Emil Venere
venere@purdjue.edu
765-494-4709
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert  

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