Billion Year Ultra-Dense Memory Chip

Alex Zettl (UCB) and Vincent Crespi (Penn State)

Digital storage devices have become ubiquitous in our lives; music, photographs, and even the written word have moved from their traditional analog formats to newer digital ones. However, this move to digital storage has raised concerns about the lifetime of storage media.
We have developed a new mechanism for digital memory storage with the potential to store data with both long lifetime and high density. Our memory device consists of a crystalline iron nanoparticle enclosed in a multiwall carbon nanotube. The nanotube can be reversibly moved through the nanotube by applying a low voltage, “writing” the device to a binary state represented by the position of the nanoparticle. The state of the device can then be subsequently read by a simple resistance measurement. This robust memory device, nanomechanical in nature, with an estimated configurable density more than 1 Tbits/in2is stable at room temperature formore than a billion years.