Atoms Under Pressure: The Dawn of Ultra-Efficient Computing Memory

Researchers develop hybrid phase-change memristors that offer fast, low-power, and high-density computing memory.


Hybrid Resistive Switches

Scientists at the University of Rochester have developed a new form of computing memory that is fast, dense, and low-power. By strategically straining thin materials that are as thin as a single layer of atoms, the researchers have created hybrid resistive switches that combine the best qualities of two existing forms of memory.

The two forms of memory being combined are memristors and phase-change materials. While memristors suffer from reliability issues, phase-change materials require too much power. By marrying the two, the researchers have overcome these limitations and created a two-terminal memristor device that stores memory as the resistance between two different crystal phases.

The key to this breakthrough is the use of 2D materials that can be strained to the point where they lie between different crystal phases and can be nudged in either direction with minimal power. By engineering the material to stretch in one direction and compress in another, the performance of the memristor device is enhanced significantly.

Engineering and Collaborative Efforts

The experimental work was conducted by Assistant Professor Stephen M. Wu and his team of graduate students at the University of Rochester. They also collaborated with researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering to identify the optimal way to strain the material.

While the phase-change memristors still need improvement in terms of reliability, the progress made by the team is promising. Wu envisions a future where this ultra-fast and ultra-efficient form of memory could be used in home computers, revolutionizing computing technology.

This research, titled "Strain engineering of vertical molybdenum ditelluride phase-change memristors," was published in the journal Nature Electronics.