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Metal oxide clusters could provide an alternative to flash memory

While flash memory is a widely used storage medium, manufacturers are facing challenges when it comes to making the devices on leading edge processes. Although flash manufacturers are looking to 3D arrangements to avoid these problems, researchers from the University of Glasgow and Rovira I Virgili University in Spain believe molecular electronics could be another useful solution. 

Scientists have previously suggested that individual molecules could be used to replace conventional data storage components. However, attempts to design these molecules have faced significant practical barriers such as low thermal stability and high resistance, which has limited their use in pre existing technologies. 

Looking to overcome these problems, the research team has developed a possible solution based on metal oxide clusters called polyoxometalates (POMs). 

Professor Lee Cronin, Regius Professor of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, led the research team. He said: "Conventional flash memory uses transistors whose design allows them to 'remember' whether they have been turned on or off after they've been removed from a power source. Those transistors' positions correspond to binary, allowing data to be stored. 

"We've been able to design, synthesise and characterise POM molecules that can trap charge and act as flash ram, as well as dope the inner core of the clusters with selenium to create a new type of memory we call 'write-once-erase'. 

According to Prof Cronin, while the POM clusters provide a balance of structural stability and electronic activity, it is also possible to tune their electronic functionality. "One major benefit of the POMs we've created is that it's possible to fabricate them with devices which are already widely-used in industry, so they can be adopted as new forms of flash memory without requiring production lines to be overhauled."

Graham Pitcher

Source:  www.newelectronics.co.uk

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