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Coming soon: Flexible memories

Posted: 09 Jun 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:flexible memory? memristor? flexible electronics?

Flexible displays are already a reality and now memories are about to get bent and twisted.

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claim to have developed a flexible memory device that they say is inexpensive and can be easily manufactured.

The flexible memristor is still at the prototype stage and faces some challenges before it can be made in volume or reach the market, concedes NIST researcher Nadine Gergel-Hackett.

"We wanted to make a flexible memory component that would advance the development and metrology of flexible electronics, while being economical enough for widespread use," said Gergel-Hackett.

"Because the active component of our device can be fabricated from a liquid, there is the potential that in the future we can print the entire memory device as simply and inexpensively as we now print a slide on an overhead transparency."

Gergel-Hackett and her colleagues took polymer sheets and deposited a thin film of titanium oxide on their surfaces. To deposit the titanium oxide, they used a sol gel process that consists of spinning the material in liquid form and letting it set, similar to how gelatin is made. They added electrical contacts and created a flexible memory switch that operates on less than 10V.

The device can maintain its memory when power is lost, the scientists suggest, and can function even after being flexed more than 4,000x.

NIST has filed for a patent on the flexible memory device, and the team's work to date is being published in next month's issue of the IEEE's Electron Device Letters journal.

The researchers note that electronic components that can flex without breaking have been coveted by portable device manufacturers for many years and for many reasons.

- John Walko
EE Times

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