Molecular Supermemory Developed
A thirteen-person research team has developed and successfully tested an easy-to-control molecular memory with a capacity of 160 kilobits and an extremely high storage density.
The device, designed at the University of California at Los Angeles and the California Institute of Technology, consists of two longitudinal lattices, each with 400 nanowires of only 16 nanometers in diameter. The rows of wires of the two lattices are perpendicular to each other and form 160,000 crossings, each containing about one hundred rotaxane molecules as storage elements.
These molecules resemble a dumbbell with a ring that moves freely between the ends. This is preferably in two places along the axis of the dumbbell, which is used to store a bit - the smallest unit of information. Each molecule can be controlled directly by means of electrical voltages in the wires in order to write or read data. The storage density of 1011 bits per square centimeter exceeds the capacity of DRAM memories used today by a hundred times.
The researchers want to achieve even higher storage densities in the future. However, the quality, reliability and switching speed of the memory components have so far been far removed from practical application. (vs)