Extending Moore’s Law

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According to Science News, researchers at Rice University have created the first two-terminal, pure silicon memory chips, easily adaptable to nanoelectric manufacturing.

Researchers discovered that silicon oxide could replace carbon in the process. When an electric charge is sent through silicon oxide-an insulator-between semiconducting sheets of polycrystalline silicon, it forms a conductive pathway as small as 5 nanometers (billionths of a meter) wide. This process creates a two-terminal resistive switch, far smaller than current circuits in computer architectures.

By continuously breaking and connecting these nano strips, one creates robust and reliable memory bits.

“The beauty of it is its simplicity,” said Professor James Tour. That, he said, will be key to the technology’s scalability. Silicon oxide switches or memory locations require only two terminals, not three (as in flash memory), because the physical process doesn’t require the device to hold a charge.

The implications for chip manufacturers and the continuation of Moore’s Law holds the promise for this technology.

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