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Transparent thin film memory could soon be here

Zinc tin oxide (ZTO) has one big advantage over traditional thin-film semiconductor materials like gallium- or indium-containing compounds -- it's cheap.

ZTO, unlike the other thin-film candidates is based on elements that are plentiful in the Earth's crust.  Plus it happens to be transparent, an added bonus when inspecting thin-film applications.  

Zinc Tin Oxide
[Image Source: Look Chem]

Previous work had already shown ZTO to make relatively good thin-film transistors -- now new research shows it's also a capable candidate for the memristor, a promising new circuit element.

Memristors are a new circuit element long theorized, but only recently implemented by Hewlett Packard Comp.'s (HPQ) research wing, HP Labs.  Since that breakthrough things have proceeded rapidly, with licensed devices expected to launch as traditional SSD replacements as early as next year.  Memristor RRAM (resistive random access memory) differs from NAND (not-and gate) memory in that it stores values as a resistance value, rather than a charge.  Hence it saves power and offers some performance advantages.

The latest development comes courtesy of Oregon State University, who successfully constructed a ZTO memristor (a much more affordable concoction that HP's original titanium dioxide design).

Comments Professor John Conley, the team lead, "Flash memory has taken us a long way with its very small size and low price.  But it’s nearing the end of its potential, and memristors are a leading candidate to continue performance improvements."

The new flexible thin-film memristor is expected to open up applications other than RRAM, too though.  One possibility suggested would be to couple the transparent memristors with thin-film transistors (TFT) in a futuristic display.

Flexible display
The new memristors could be added to flexible displays. [Image Source: Flexible-Display.net]

The findings were published [abstract] in Solid-State Electronics, a peer-reviewed electrical-engineering journal.  The work was funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI).

Sources: OSU [press release], Solid-State Electronics [abstract]



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RE: First thing I tought of -
By Hellfire27 on 9/18/2012 10:29:31 AM , Rating: 2
Good form.


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