Nanoscale memory ready to roll

Rolltronics Corporation is to develop a nanoscale thin film memory that stores data in molecule-size ‘cylinders’ that retain data even when power is removed.

Rolltronics NanoMem technology has the potential to store 10 to 100 times more data in the same space as current flash memory, and can be produced at a much lower cost.

NanoMem will be produced in Rolltronics continuous flow production process called roll-to-roll manufacturing. In this process, devices are ‘printed’ on a long roll of flexible plastic or metal foil that passes through production chambers, using rollers to define its path.

‘Roll-to-roll manufacturing will allow Rolltronics to reduce costs by as much as 5 times, compared to flash memory, while increasing the data density 10 to 100 times,’ says Rolltronics CEO Michael Sauvante.

‘Rolltronics’ NanoMem technology works on a very simple principle. Data is stored in the molecules that self-assemble into cylindrical stacks in a sheet of plastic that is about one micron thick. The data is written in a low-voltage optoelectronic process that traps an electrical charge in the molecules of the plastic. The architecture requires no chemical change and is much simpler than flash, which makes it suitable for roll-to-roll manufacturing,’ said Dr. James Sheats, Chief Technology Officer for Rolltronics.

Using the technology, a PC Card module could hold up to 64Gbytes of data, 100 times more data storage than PC Cards based on current flash memory technology. A larger USB memory module would be capable of storing up to 5Tbytes of data in the same space as a standard 3.5′ hard disk.

Prototypes of the new memory technology were developed and tested by Dr. Allen Bard of the University of Texas in Austin. Tests revealed zero detectable data loss after 7000 hours without power, and zero data degradation after 1.5 billion read-write cycles.

But storage devices based on NanoMem technology aren’t expected to be available until 2004.

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