Researchers Build Memory Chip The Size Of A Blood Cell
The memory circuit has enough capacity to store the Declaration of Independence and still have space left over.
Chip development has taken on a new scope -- microscopic, actually.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have created a memory circuit the size of a white blood cell that they claim has enough capacity to store the Declaration of Independence and still have space left over. The circuit, built by a joint Caltech-UCLA team, has a 160-Kbit capacity -- reportedly the densest memory circuit ever fabricated.
James Heath, a Caltech chemistry professor who led the research team, called the creation of the memory circuit a milestone in manufacturing, even though it's nowhere near ready for wide-scale production and sale.
"It's the sort of device that Intel would contemplate making in the year 2020," says Heath. "But at the moment, it furthers our goal of learning how to manufacture functional electronic circuitry at molecular dimensions."
Caltech researchers say the 160,000 memory bits in the circuit are arranged like a large tic-tac-toe board -- 400 silicon wires crossed by 400 titanium wires -- with a layer of molecular switches sandwiched in between. Each wire crossing represents a bit, and a single bit is 15 nanometers wide. That's one ten-thousandth of the diameter of a human hair. In comparison, they add, the densest memory devices currently on the market are about 140 nanometers wide.
"Whether it's actually possible to get this new memory circuit into a laptop, I don't know," says Heath. "But we have time."
The researchers' work appears in today's issue of the journal Nature.
5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.