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Thank you Re: FYI Molecular Expressions: Science, Optics and You - Powers Of 10:  Interactive
    Java Tutorial

  [Often thought of as "Blue Sky" this is one of many stories on this topic. ...ED]

   And:Chris M. wrote:

    Thursday, November 13, 2003 Posted: 10:06 AM EST (1506 GMT)

    SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- A new memory technology promises to
    store mored ata at less cost than the expensive-to-build silicon chips used by popular
    consumer gadgets including digital cameras, cell phones and portable music players.
    The magical ingredient isn't smaller transistors or an exotic material
    cooked up by the semiconductor industry. It's a plastic.

    Researchers at Princeton University and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP Labs
    developed the memory, technically a hybrid that contains a plastic film, a
    flexible foil substrate and some silicon. The findings appear in the journal
    Nature on Thursday.

    Unlike flash memory found in consumer devices, the new technology can be
    written to only once, though it can be read many times. It acts in that
    respect like a non-rewriteable compact disc. But the new memory, which
    retains data even when there's no power, won't require a power-hungry
    laser  or motor to read or write, and promises more capacity.
  "For music or photographs, it's actually an advantage to have something you
    can't rewrite," said Warren Jackson, one of the paper's co-authors and
    scientist at HP Labs. "Even in accounting, it would be quite useful if you
    have a trail of files that you can't erase."

    The goal is to make the technology fast enough to store video.
    It also could become one of those items people need to keep buying
    because,  once they fill up a card, they'll need more.
    Because production would be simpler, costs for consumers should be lower
    on a per-megabyte basis than today's flash memory, researchers said. Yet it has
   the potential to store considerably more data.

    "We're looking at a different way of manufacturing that we think will
    eliminate clean rooms and be a lot less expensive in the end," said Craig
    Perlov, an HP Labs scientist and another co-author of the research paper.

    The new memory, which could end up in a small format similar to Compact
    Flash or SD Cards, doesn't use transistors to store information. Instead, bits
     are written when a strong current passes through a polymer fuse, causing it to
    blow and change its conductivity. Smaller currents determine what junctions
    are opened or closed -- which translates into the digital world's ones and
    zeros -- to retrieve the contents.

    Because manufacturing wouldn't require vacuum chambers or high temperatures,  
   layers could be stacked atop each other, like a layer cake. Such stacking has yet
    to be attempted.

    "There are no critical alignment steps and no lithography," said Stephen
    Forrest, a Princeton scientist and study co-author. "Most importantly, it's
    not on a crystalline substrate so that we can stack these memories very
    tightly. We can use three dimensions to create the memory."

    Other companies are pursuing polymer-based memory. Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
  recently bought the startup Coatue, which is working on a reprogrammable memory.
    It has since been folded into FASL LLC, AMD's joint venture with Fujitsu.

    "They're aiming at harder targets," said Vladimir Bulovic, a professor of
    computer science and electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute
    of Technology. "They're trying to work on rewriteable memory, which is the
    second step. The (write-once, read many times) memory is the first obvious
    New memory has become a hot topic of research since current flash  memory is expected
    to run into trouble in coming years. As the dimensions get smaller, the transistors leak more
    electricity and require more power to operate.
   Bulovic, who was not involved in the research, said several more steps must
    be worked out before such memory becomes commercially available. But
    the results are promising, he added.
    "It's a real technology," he said. "And that's a tremendous difference to
    anything else that's been shown in the molecular electronics field."

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