A group based out of University College London have developed a material that could lead to incredible gains in memory speed, storage and other improvements. They stumbled upon an interesting structure of silicon oxide that changes resistance more efficiently than anything else previously achieved. This change in resistance is what constitutes the basis of memory in computers, as once a charge goes through the material remembers it even if the charge ceases. More efficient resistance changes means more efficient silicon chips.
In this new silicon oxide structure, when voltage is applied the arrangement of silicon atoms changes to form filaments of silicon inside the solid silicon oxide. These filaments are less resistive so the material ends up having two distinct states: One with filaments and one without.
Unlike other similar chips currently being developed, this particular one doesn’t require the use of a vacuum to function properly. Due to not requiring a vacuum, it is likely that they will be more durable and cheaper to produce to boot. The very nature of the design also raises the potential of developing chips designed for mobile devices that could be transparent and yet incredibly fast.
Dr. Tony Kenyon, from the team behind the design, sees good things coming:
Our [...] memory chips need just a thousandth of the energy and are around a hundred times faster than standard Flash memory chips. The fact that the device can operate in ambient conditions and has a continuously variable resistance opens up a huge range of potential applications.
Faster memory is never not a good thing. Ultimately, this discovery could lead to yet more discoveries in computing as the chips roll out.
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