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Surprising Science

On The Horizon: 3D Transparent Memory Chips

Those windshields with embedded displays may be here sooner than you think: A team of Rice University researchers has come up with flexible high-capacity memory chips made of silicon oxide and graphene.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn


What’s the Latest Development?

Researchers at Rice University have created memory chips from silicon oxide placed between graphene electrodes and put onto paper-thin pieces of plastic, effectively making them “transparent, non-volatile, heat- and radiation-resistant…and perhaps better than any [other type of memory] on the market today.” The details of the chip’s design and construction were recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

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What’s the Big Idea?

There’s only so much memory that can currently fit on a flash drive, just to name one example of a small-memory device. The structure of the Rice unit — in which memory is stacked in three-dimensional configurations — significantly increases the amount of information a chip can hold. The team is currently working with companies who want to adapt their chips to the Rice model, and samples have been sent to the International Space Station to test their tolerance to radiation. Eventually, the team hopes to see these chips mass-manufactured at a reasonable price, and adapted by industries in ways that come straight out of science fiction: “Imagine heads-up windshields or displays with embedded electronics, or even flexible, transparent cellphones.”

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


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