Who

Manufacturers of smaller and smarter computer chips for consumer electronics such as smartphones and tablets, and 3D chips for brain-inspired computing applications.

What

The thinnest memory storage device with dense memory capacity was developed using 2D nanomaterials — called “atomristors” — that improve upon memristors, an emerging memory storage technology with lower memory scalability. Atomristors enable the 3D integration of nanoscale memory with nanoscale transistors on the same chip for advanced computing systems. Memory storage and transistors have always been separate components on a microchip, but atomristors combine both functions on a single, more efficient computer system. Using metallic atomic sheets (graphene) as electrodes and semiconducting atomic sheets (molybdenum sulfide) as the active layer, the entire memory cell is a sandwich about 1.5 nanometers thick, which makes it possible to densely pack atomristors layer by layer in a plane. This is a substantial advantage over conventional flash memory, which occupies a much larger space. In addition, the thinness allows for faster and more efficient electric current flow.

This illustrates a voltage-induced memory effect in monolayer nanomaterials that are layered to create “atomristors,” the thinnest memory storage device that could lead to faster, smaller, and smarter computer chips. (Cockrell School of Engineering)

Where

University of Texas at Austin, Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin, TX

When

The memory storage device is ready for commercialization.

Why

The sheer density of memory storage that can be made possible by layering the synthetic atomic sheets onto each other, coupled with integrated transistor design, could result in computers that learn and remember the same way as the human brain. The atomristors also are the smallest radio frequency memory switches to be demonstrated with no DC battery consumption, which can ultimately lead to longer battery life.

Contact: Adrienne Lee, Cockrell School of Engineering, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 512-471-7541.

Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2018 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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