By this point, just about everyone who uses an electronic device has been exposed to flash memory. The non-volatile, solid-state, and fast nature of the memory makes it ideal for many devices including phones, compact USB drives, and large SSDs. Now researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed a new kind of flash memory that uses two special materials; graphene and molybdenite.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon with many impressive qualities, including high conductivity and flexibility. Molybdenite is molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and also has a two dimensional structure, but unlike graphene, it is a semiconductor. The researchers have paired these two materials together in a sandwich-like structure, with the molybdenite in the middle. When a charge enters the structure, the band gap of the molybdenite is able to interpret it as a 0 or 1, and that signal then passes on to a layer of graphene. The graphene then stores the charge for later recall.
Potentially this new design for flash cells could have a large impact on technology because the materials can be used on a smaller scale than silicon can be. Also both materials are flexible, making the memory cell itself flexible, and flexible electronics area myriad of applications.