Feeds

Texan prof sees big future for graphene storage

Flash just a flash in the pan, seemingly

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Docker kicks KVM's butt in IBM tests
Big Blue finds containers are speedy, but may not have much room to improve
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Gartner's Special Report: Should you believe the hype?
Enough hot air to carry a balloon to the Moon
Flash could be CHEAPER than SAS DISK? Come off it, NetApp
Stats analysis reckons we'll hit that point in just three years
Dell The Man shrieks: 'We've got a Bitcoin order, we've got a Bitcoin order'
$50k of PowerEdge servers? That'll be 85 coins in digi-dosh
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.