smartphones and tablets are hailed as the hardware of the future, their
present-day incarnations have some flaws. Most notoriously, low RAM
memory limits the number of applications that can be run at one time and
quickly consumes battery power. Now, a Tel Aviv University researcher
has found a creative solution to these well-known problems.
silicon technology gets smaller, creating a large and powerful memory
grows harder, say PhD candidate Elad Mentovich and his supervisor Dr.
Shachar Richter of TAU’s Department of Chemistry and Center for
Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Working with carbon molecules called
C60, Mentovich has successfully built a sophisticated memory transistor
that can both transfer and store energy, eliminating the need for a
molecular memory transistor, which can be as small as one nanometer,
stores and disseminates information at high speed — and it’s ready to be
produced at existing high-tech fabrication facilities. Major companies
in the memory industry have already expressed interest in the
technology, says Mentovich, who was awarded first prize for his work at
May’s European conference in the session on Novel Materials Approaches
for Microelectronics of the Materials Research Society. The basis of the
technology has been published in the journal Advanced Materials and
Applied Physics Letters.
Closing the technology gap
devices like smartphones and tablets are the computing devices of the
post-personal-computer (PC) era, says Mentovich. These devices, which
are small and battery operated, are quickly closing the gap with their
laptop or desktop ancestors in terms of computing power and storage
capacity—but they are lacking in RAM, the run-time memory reserves
that computers need to operate various programs. Because current RAM
technology is power-hungry and physically large, it doesn’t function
well in mobile devices. That’s where laptops and PC’s retain the edge.
many as 15 years ago, technology experts realized that the problem with
shrinking electronics would be the physical size of the hardware needed
to make them run. The idea of a sophisticated transistor, which could
do the job of both the transistor and the capacitor, was a technological
In order to tackle this technology gap, Mentovich was inspired by the work of Israel Prize winner Prof. Avraham Nitzan
of TAU’s Department of Chemistry, who proved that, due to its special
structure, a molecule can store both an electric charge and information
at the same time. To apply this finding to transistors, Mentovich used
C60 molecules, made up of 60 carbon atoms, and put them in the channels
of a transistor, creating a smaller-than-silicone, high-speed transistor
that could also do the job of a capacitor.
believes that this technology is sorely needed in today’s mobile world.
2012 was the first year in which big technology companies sold more
tablets and smartphones than laptops and notebooks combined, he notes.
“When this new technology is integrated into future devices, you will
have much more memory on your smartphones and tablets, approaching the
level of a laptop. With that kind of memory, you’ll be able to run
applications simultaneously, and because it is low voltage, power
consumption will fall and battery life will be longer.”
next step is to find a fabrication facility with the necessary
materials to manufacture the transistors. According to Mentovich, the
benefit of this product is that with the right equipment, which is
standard in high-tech facilities, and his breakthroughs on how to put
the transistors together, these molecular memories could be manufactured
anywhere. “The distance to implementation is not far,” he says.
Source: Tel Aviv University