Nanowire Memory Cells: Compact Data Storage

Nanowire made of indium oxide (In2O3) makes it possible to achieve data storage rates of 40 Gigabits per square centimeter, according to scientists at USC and the NASA Ames Research Center.


The USC/Ames researchers synthesized nanowires of indium oxide (In2O3) 10 nanometers in diameter and about 2000 nanometers long, by a "laser ablation" process. The indium-containing compound is vaporized; the wires form spontaneously as the precipitant indium reacts with ambient oxygen. Because the wires assemble themselves, Assistant Professor Chongwu Zhou believes that these ultra-dense memory devices may be cheaper than other forms of storage that require meticulous processes to construct.

The nanowire memory system is already remarkably stable, holding information for up to 600 hours. After creating transistors with the nanowires, researchers found that the transistors could be placed in three different activated states, tripling the storage capability. See the news release Stacked, packed nanowires hold triplexed megadata for additional details.

Fans of Frank Herbert may recall shigawire from his 1965 novel Dune. Although shigawire had other uses, it was also used as a high-capacity data storage device. It is interesting to note that wire recorders using piano wire were first introduced in the 1870's; it was the first commercially successful form of recording device made available to the public.

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