Nanotube RAMOctober 10th, 2005
A company named Nantero has created a 10-gigabit RAM chip based on nanotube transistors.
Nanotube RAM (NRAM) uses carbon nanotube transistors instead of conventional silicon transistors. It is non-volatile, like flash memory, but does not degrade over time as is the case with flash. It is also ten times faster and uses substantially less power than flash. In addition, NRAM is “highly resistent to heat, cold, and magnetism”.
The technology is currently not a viable replacement for flash memory in gadgets like iPods because it is too large—the 10Gb wafer is 13cm (5in) in diameter. It is not clear whether Nantero expects the size to decrease in the future, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case. At the very least, they could make the chip more 3-dimensional, thus converting a flat, thin wafer into more of a cube.
Solid-state memory is much faster than mechanical hard drives, and this technology has the potential to replace conventional hard drives completely. There is already some headway in this direction, and I expect NRAM to join the movement.
UPDATE: The nature.com article has become subscription-only, so you won’t be able to read it unless you (or your library) have a subscription to Nature.