Carbon nanotube memory coming

NRAM (non-volatile RAM) is one step closer to replacing DRAM, SRAM and flash memory with a universal memory design.

Startup Nantero has built a carbon nanotube-based memory wafer using standard semiconductor fabrication processes. This removes a significant hurdle in commercializing the seemingly exotic NRAM (non-volatile RAM) that could replace DRAM, SRAM and flash memory with a universal memory design.

A carbon nanotube has a wall just one atom wide and a diameter on one billionth of a meter. It is the building block for NRAM chips.

Production of NRAM has faced obstacles in the past, including an inability to position the nanotubes reliably across entire silicon wafers, and contamination of supplied nanotubes that made the material incompatible with hyper-clean CMOS semiconductor fabs.

Nantero has solved these problems and has demonstrated the precise alignment of 10 billion nanotubes on a single wafer manufactured in a standard semiconductor fabrication plant. The process treated the nanotube material as a fabric and used standard semiconductor fab techniques such as spincoating, lithography and etching.

It was started with OEM-sourced carbon nanotubes. These were cleansed of impurities, stray particles for example, and then layered onto a wafer with a foundation of flat tubes parallel to one another in a silicon glue, and a second upright tube layer above it, also with parallel tubes and also in silicon. The tubes can be individually bent by putting an electrical charge through them. A bent tube touching another completes a circuit by lowering electrical resistance and signals a binary one. Straighten the bent tube and you have a zero.

The aim is for Natero to licence its intellectual property to semiconductor fabrication suppliers which would then sell NRAM chips to server, PC, notebook and mobile intelligent device manufacturers.

Nantero has been doing NRAM manufacturing research work with LSI Logic, and this was switched to On Semiconductor in May this year when that firm bought the Gresham, Oregon-based fab from LSI.

In July Nantero and HP announced they were working together on a printable memory application.

Greg Schmergel, CEO and cofounder of Nantero, said at the time: "A printable NRAM memory could be deposited on flexible substrates to enable very low cost RFID tags."

We might see the introduction of devices using NRAM chips in 2010, possibly earlier.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Mellor

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?