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prabakaran • Dec 24, 2011

Vertical Silicon Nanowires Might Be The Next Generation Non-Volatile Memory Devices

Navab Singh of A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics, along with his co-workers and the Nanyang Technical University of Singapore, created a highly scalable method for storing data using vertical nanowires.  It's been decades now, since our scientists and engineers started working over CMOS technology and floating gate flash technology to design better memory devices, specifically non-volatile memory devices. The above technologies doesn't keeping up much with the growing needs in memory technology, with scaling limits.

Image Credit: RuslanDashinsky

When the researchers try to bring the size down, the CMOS and floating gate flash devices would be loosing their performance and stability. To resolve this problem of scaling, Navab Singh and his co-workers designed this new method of memory storage that carried off the conventional junction based silicon technology.

Instead they created electrical junctions by carefully selecting the gate material based on the requirements without any doped junction inside the silicon nanowires.

“The nanowires are uniformly doped without junctions and conduction through them is controlled by a gate surrounding their central portion,” explains Singh. “The gate material is selected such that when there is zero potential applied on the gate, the wire is fully depleted of carriers and the current cannot flow, creating an OFF state.”

The charges that are stored into the nitride thin films sandwiched between the gate and nanowires have much influence on the current through the wires. The different amount of charge stored and their position in nitride films leads to different current values (high or low) that significantly denotes different data bits.

These devices, created by Singh and his team, are capable of storing multi-bit data storage per cell without any interference between the charges stored at different locations of nitrite. On the top of it, they can build multiple cells on a singe wire much like constructing a multi-story building, eventually leading to more bits being stored by a nanowire.

According to singh, although there are a lot of challenges in bringing these devices working under normal condition, these devices could be the future of  memory storage for data centers, computers and mobile devices.

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