Rice University researcher James Tour and postdoctoral associate Alexander Sinitskii used industry-standard lithographic techniques to place 10-nanometer strips of amorphous graphite onto silicon, which could lead to the creation of very dense and stable nonvolatile memory. Many other efforts to create graphitic memory used techniques that were not practical in terms of fabrication, but Tour and Sinitskii used chemical vapor deposition and lithography, both of which are well known in the chip manufacturing industry.
Tour's lab discovered that running a current through a 10-atom thick layer of graphite creates a complete break in the circuit, while another jolt of electricity repairs that break. This process appears to be indefinitely repeatable, which could allow graphite to act as ones and zeroes, like in modern flash technology but at a much denser scale. Graphite also can be used with as little as three volts, and it needs only two terminals instead of three, significantly reducing the amount of circuitry needed.
Graphite also is impervious to a wide temperature range and radiation, making it highly usable for space and military applications. Current field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) can only be programmed once, but creating a graphite FPGA would allow FPGAs to be reprogrammed at will.
From Rice University
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