Engineers at the University of Texas at Austin have created the smallest media under one-nanometer square.
In 2018, researchers created the thinnest memory device to date. In this new work, scientists took this experience and further reduced the size and cross-sectional area to one square nanometer.
When another metal atom enters this nanoscale hole and fills it, it transfers some of its conductivity to the material, giving it the ability to remember. <…> The holy grail of science is when scaling is reduced to a level where only one atom is responsible for memory. And that’s what we have achieved in the new study.
Deji Akinwande, Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Although the researchers used molybdenum disulfide, also known as MoS2, as the primary nanomaterial in their study, they believe the discovery could be applied to hundreds of similar atomically thin materials.
Now there is a race to make the chip and its components as small as possible. It makes sense. With smaller processors, you can make smaller computers and phones. Shrinking the size of the chips also reduces power consumption and increases capacity.
The new device belongs to the category of memristors. It is a popular area of memory research, centered around electrical components with the ability to change the resistance between its two leads without the need for a third lead in the middle, also called a gate. So new devices can take up less space and be more spacious than modern storage devices.