Although you probably haven't heard of the chemist James Tour or his scientific research at Rice University, there's a good chance you will. Tour and his team made news in 2015 by pioneering a streamlined, ultra-high density form of solid-state storage.
There are a number of reasons why this is significant news in the world of solid-state storage. In the past, storage systems were limited to the amount of data they could actually contain; that's why consumer-level SSDs are typically only available with small storage capacities. However, the research team at Rice University has recently resolved this limitation.
Older SSDs suffered from major crosstalk in interference at higher capacities, which would result in unexpected read errors within other devices within the same system. By resolving this issue, via a standard insulating product, the team has effectively opened the door for SSDs that are capable of storing several terabytes of data.
It's important to note, however, that their new device does rely on layering in order to achieve such high capacities and such stable performance. By stacking layers of platinum, multilayer graphene and tantalum oxide, a common insulator that is used in many different electronic devices and components, the scientific research team at Rice University was able to develop a single crossbar array memory that boasts 162 GBs of storage space within an object that is 250 nanometers thick. When combined and stacked on top of one another, the potential storage capacity is enormous.
"This tantalum memory is based on two-terminal systems, so it’s all set for 3-D memory stacks. It doesn’t even need diodes or selectors, making it one of the easiest ultradense memories to construct. This will be a real competitor for the growing memory demands in high-definition video storage and server arrays." Tour said.
However, there are still some hurdles to overcome before the technology can be introduced for use in consumer-level SSDs. According to Gunuk Wang, lead author of Rice University's study, was quick to point out several issues that still need to be tackled. He specifically cited concerns with density of the crossbar device itself and its ability to process separate bits.
Furthermore, a bit of size regulation needs to be implemented to control the size of the device's nanopores, which serve to stabilize any negative-charged ions. These ions ultimately combine to create a shield, which in turn eliminates the previous crosstalk issues.
As you can see, we still have a long way to go before we see any huge leaps in the capacity of consumer SSDs. However, with breakthroughs like this, as well as IT professionals who continue to research and develop new solutions to overcoming the current barriers associated with solid-state memory, it might not be long before we view SSDs as standard hardware in new PCs and laptops.
Rice's latest endeavor involved a number of industry experts, including James Tour, Gunuk Wang, Jae-Hwang Lee, Yongsung Ji, Gedeng Ruan, Nam Dong Kim, Yang Yang. A highly knowledgeable team of postdoctoral researchers also contributed to the study.
Researchers Develop High Density Solid State Storage
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