Feeds

Texan prof sees big future for graphene storage

Flash just a flash in the pan, seemingly

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A Texan boffin says he has seen the future of storage - and it's graphite based. Professor James Tour of Rice Uni in Houston believes that his proposed graphene arrays could be many times denser and faster than existing storage tech, and they'd be more reliable too.

Tour's system works using strips of graphite ten atoms thick, which can be mechanically broken by a pulse of electricity, then joined up again by another pulse, and so on.

These on-off elements can be 10 nanometres in size, as opposed to the 45nm typical in today's flash chips. Better still, the graphite strips require only two terminals to work rather than three, which means that chips can have many layers much more easily. As the process is mechanical, the device would retain information without using any power.

Best of all, according to Tour, is the ratio of power between on and off states.

“It’s huge - a million-to-one,” said Tour. “Phase-change memory, the other thing the industry is considering, runs at 10-to-1. That means the ‘off’ state holds, say, one-tenth the amount of current than the ‘on’ state.”

That means that in a phase-change system, relatively minor energy leaks can switch an "off" bit to "on", leading to a high error rate. Tour reckons his graphite mech-switch gear would be enormously more reliable, making it easier to build.

"This is big," he says. "It allows us to make a much larger array.”

The prof also claims that the literally make-and-break switches are robust. “Its lifetime is going to be huge, much better than flash memory,” he claims.

On top of all this, the graphite kit is apparently very fast, so fast in fact that Tour's lab can't measure its speed. So: huge capacity, fast, reliable, long-lived, made out of cheap stuff. What's not to like? Well, manufacturing apparently won't be simple. But Tour thinks the problems are solvable.

“Typically, graphene is very hard to think about fabricating commercially,” he said, “but this can be done very easily by deposition. The same types of processes used right now can be used to grow this type of graphene in place.”

Once it's made, Tour sees the new hyperstorage being driven mainly by consumer applications.

“Cameras, games, cell phones ... it’s not like somebody’s saying, ‘Let’s make better memory for science.’ ... This shows a lot of promise,” he says.

Tour's new paper in Nature Materials can be read here. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
Symantec backs out of Backup Exec: Plans to can appliance in Jan
Will still provide support to existing customers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.