Carbon Nanotubes Could Revolutionize Data Storage

Technology company Nantero is developing a non-volatile random access memory chip to replace dynamic RAM (DRAM), static RAM (SRAM) and flash memory. It may even be able to replace hard disk storage in some applications. According to Nantero NRAM will be "considerably faster and denser than DRAM, have substantially lower power consumption than DRAM or flash, be as portable as flash memory, and be highly resistant to environmental forces (heat, cold, magnetism)."

The NRAM was invented by Dr. Thomas Rueckes, Nantero's Chief Scientific Officer. Last week the company announced it had created an array of ten billion suspended nanotube junctions on a single silicon wafer. The suspended junctions store data by changing position--up equals "0" and down equals "1". Electrical fields are used to change the state of the junctions.

Standard semiconductor processes can be used to make NRAM wafers. A very thin layer of carbon nanotubes is deposited over the entire wafer, then lithography and etching are used to remove nanotubes that are not in the correct position. Dr. Rueckes explained, "This gets around the problem that nanotubes cannot reliably be grown in large arrays. At the end of our
process only the nanotubes in the correct positions are remaining. This process was used to make a 10Gb array now, but could easily be used to make even larger arrays -- the main variable now controlling the size is the resolution of the lithography equipment."

While at first this technology may not look like it is applicable to wireless communication, it could be useful in software-defined radios and digital signal processing and storage.

For more information, see the Nantero web site at