Archive for April 11th, 2012

Want more storage? Move to 3D structures

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 by Roberto Saracco

As data creation grows, particularly at the personal level, more storage is required. Researchers keep expanding the choices for storing data and refined technologies are announced every week. Once in a while a new technology pops up and although its performances are way below the current standards it may contain the seed to change the rules of the game.

Flexible and transparent memory based on nano silicon filament

This might be the case for a storage technology just announced by researchers at the Rice University based on nano filament of silicon.

This new technology is based on nano filament of silicon creating a fabric that is flexible and transparent and that provides huge capacity of storage. Each nano filament can store a bit (we are talking about a few hundreds of atoms -compare this with the 15 hundreds atoms required in a normal flash memory to store one bit). Besides, the structure is 3D, so the storage takes advantage of all the material and not just of its surface as it is the case for a usual flash memory.

According to Rice researchers these memories can be used to provide storage capacity “embedded” in screens: imagine today’s glass covering a screen being replaced by a layer of “plastic” that is a container for bits. Your television screen will be able to store, on its very surface, TBs of data, becoming at the same time cheaper and lighter.

It is not yet ready for your living room but just wait a few more years, surely within this decade, and you will start to see that potentially all surfaces of objects may play the double roe of storage. Being flexible and transparent it can be positioned on most surfaces.

What if this is not going to happen? Even better! It will mean that a new technology, or the refinement of an existing one, will produce something that is even better than what being promised by this one.

This is the real beauty of parallel inventions: they compete and eventually the market will select the one that is deemed “best” for a variety of reasons.

When we see an announcement that will not result in market innovation we have to ask ourselves whether it is a failure or rather it has been an instrument in pushing the envelope even further stimulating evolution in other, alternative, technologies. It is the overall ecosystem that grows, at the same time as some of its constituencies fail.