Researchers may have found a way for smartphones, tablets and other “smart” enabled devices to use data without draining the battery, thanks to an unlikely two-dimensional material.
A team from Purdue University is using molybdenum ditelluride to create a new computer chip with millions of new memory cells, providing speed and energy savings for smart devices.
Molybdenum ditelluride is a 2D material that stacks into multiple layers to build a memory cell.
In recent years, technology manufacturers have sought better memory platforms, including resistive random access memory (RRAM), where an electrical current is driven through a memory cell comprised of stacked materials. This structure creates a change in resistance that records data as 0s and 1s in memory.
The specific sequence of 0s and 1s among memory cells identify pieces of information that the computer reads to perform a function and then store into memory again.
RRAM has not yet been available for widespread use on computer chips because while robust enough to store and retrieve data through trillions of cycles, the material currently used is too unreliable.
However, molybdenum ditelluride could change that.
“We haven’t yet explored system fatigue using this new material, but our hope is that it is both faster and more reliable than other approaches due to the unique switching mechanism we’ve observed,” Joerg Appenzeller, Purdue University’s Barry M. and Patricia L. Epstein Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the scientific director of nanoelectronics at the Birck Nanotechnology Center, said in a statement.
A system using molybdenum ditelluride can quickly switch between 0 and 1 to increase the rate of storing and retrieving data. This happens because when electric field is applied to the cell the atoms are displaced by a small distance, resulting in a state of high resistance, noted as 0 or a state of low resistance noted as 1.
This process can occur much faster than the switching that takes place in conventional RRAM devices.
“Because less power is needed for these resistive states to change, a battery could last longer,” Appenzeller said.
In the new computer chips, a memory arrays called a cross-point RRAM would be formed where each memory cell is located at the intersection of wires.
The research team now hopes to build a stacked memory cell utilizing a library of novel fabricated electronic materials that incorporates the other main components of a computer chip–‘logic’ that processes data and ‘interconnects,’ wires that transfer electrical signals.
“Logic and interconnects drain battery too, so the advantage of an entirely two-dimensional architecture is more functionality within a small space and better communication between memory and logic,” Appenzeller said.
Two U.S. patent applications have been filed for this technology through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization.
The study was published in Nature Materials.