The next generation of high-speed and high-capacity random-access memory has seen a number of competitive approaches take center stage of late, from spin-transfer torque Magnetic RAM to resistive RAM. Now, researchers at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln have shown a way forward that could offer a general improvement to RAM. They’ve made improvements to the ferroelectric tunnel junction by combining graphene with ammonia so that it is capable of switching on and off the flow of electrons more completely.
“This is one of the most important differences between previous technology that has already been commercialized and this emergent ferroelectric technology,” said Alexei Gruverman, a physics professor who co-authored the study, in a press release.
The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Nature Communications, tackled the ferroelectric tunnel junction, which consists of a layer of material so thin that electrons can tunnel through it.
This ferroelectric layer is positioned between two electrodes so that when an electric field is applied to them, it can reverse the direction of the junction’s polarization.
In this case, they used an ammonia molecule, which sat between the electrodes and the ferroelectric layer.
Ferroelectric materials do have the advantage of being non-volatile, in that they can maintain their polarization even in the absence of an external power source and thereby keep their stored information.
“The thinner the ferroelectric layer is, the more difficult it is to keep these polarization charges separate, as there is a stronger driving force in the material that tries to get rid of it.”