Two materials are intensely being studied for their potential use in future electronics. Graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon, and oxides, with their various properties, could revolutionize technology and now researchers at Rice University have created just such a revolutionary product. By combining graphene and silicon dioxide, the researchers have created a transparent and flexible memory device that can be built up into a 3D structure.
Researchers at Rice have previously discovered that a high enough voltage on silicon dioxide can cause the oxygen atoms to break off of the silicon, creating a conducting channel just 5 nm wide on the insulating material. With a lower voltage the oxygen atoms can immediately reattach to the silicon, which enables the material to act as a switch. The researchers sandwiched the silicon dioxide between pieces of graphene, which act as electrodes, to create the new two-terminal memory that can be built into a 3D structure. Flash memory with its three-terminal requirement cannot be stacked in that way.
When producing the memory the researchers achieved 80% yield, which is quite respectable for a non-industry lab. Once industry gets a hold on this technology, they suspect it will push that yield even higher.