To combine the speed and price of dynamic memory with the non-volatility of flash memory
UK-based Nottingham University is embarking on a new research project called the "Project Nanodevice," which is aimed at developing a new carbon nanotube data storage device.
In simpler terms, the goal of the researchers is to build a memory that is non-volatile in nature based on nano-sized carbon structures called nanotubes. According to the university, they are working on "a new device for storing information made entirely of carbon nanotubes and combining the speed and price of dynamic memory with the non-volatility of flash memory. "To explain how this works, the diagram below should be of help. To start with, the entire set-up consists of two nanotubes with different circumferences. The tubes are designed in such a way that one can fit inside the other. The set-up starts working when an electrical current is passed through the outer tube. This forces the inner tube to telescope in and out. When the inner tube is out, it contacts a remote electrode and thereby completes a circuit. This is registered as a binary "1." Once the tube retracts, the circuit is broken, which in turn is registered as a binary "0."
This will be, in fact, the first type of memory to actually have moving components as the basic framework - albeit nano-sized. The moving parts will consist of tiny rolled sheets of graphene. As mentioned earlier, the system will be non-volatile like flash memory; for the same reason, it will not need constant power supply, and it will not lose data in the event of a power failure. You can compare it to a 2GB USB drive, which does not lose data when the power fails.
Apart from its non- volatility, it is also projected to be much more "abuse friendly," thanks to its extreme resistance to G-force-induced forces that usually are the nemesis of current memory products.
Dr. Elena Bichoutskaia who leads the project quips, "The electronics industry is searching for a replacement to silicon-based technologies for data storage and computer memory. Existing technologies such as magnetic hard discs cannot be used reliably at the sub-micrometre scale and will soon reach their fundamental physical limitations.
"With developments in similar technologies, the computers of the future might not need separate memories for storage and computing processes.