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Memory and Storage

Researchers build a simpler resistive memory

13 August 2013

A team at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering, has developed a next generation memory storage device made of novel memory cells.

The new resistive memory device is a self-assembled zinc oxide nano-island on silicon that the researchers claim is smaller, operates at a higher speed and offers more storage capacity than flash memory cells. The new resistive material has the potential of storing Terabytes instead of today’s norm of Gigabytes using other resistive memory devices.

Resistive memory is a good memory replacement for flash memory, which may be reaching the end of its lifespan, according to the researchers. Resistive memory is receiving significant attention from academia and the electronics industry because it has a simple structure, high-density integration, fast operation and long life.

Researchers have also found that resistive memory can be scaled down to sub 10-nanometers, which is roughly a feature size twice as small as current flash devices exhibit.

Creating a zinc oxide nano-island on silicon device eliminates the need for a diode, as a selector device. Other resistive memories using a metal-oxide-metal structure as the selector device need a diode. In the new device, the researchers, using a conductive atomic force microscope, observed three operation modes from the same device structure.

"This is a significant step as the electronics industry is considering wide-scale adoption of resistive memory as an alternative for flash memory," said Jianlin Liu, a professor of electrical engineering at UC Riverside who is one of the authors of the paper. "It really simplifies the process and lowers the fabrication cost."

The findings were published online this week in the journal Scientific Reports. The collaborative research team consisted of Jing Qi, a former visiting scholar in Liu's lab and now an associate professor at Lanzhou University in China; Mario Olmedo, who earned his Ph.D. from UC Riverside and now works at Intel; and Jian-Guo Zheng, a director of the Laboratory of Electron and X-ray Instrumentation at UC Irvine.

UC Riverside's research effort was partially supported by the Defense Microelectronics Activity and the Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation.

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