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Materials

See-Through Memory Devices

Combining silicon oxide and graphene yields transparent memory devices

by Bethany Halford
October 8, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 41

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Credit: Rice University
A transparent, flexible memory device.
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Credit: Rice University
A transparent, flexible memory device.

By marrying silicon oxide and graphene, researchers have developed transparent memory devices that could find use in flexible electronics and sophisticated displays (Nat. Commun., DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2110). The work comes from a Rice University team led by Douglas Natelson and James M. Tour. Silicon oxide, with its recently discovered resistive switching properties, serves as the information storage material. Graphene makes up the device’s electrodes. With the exception of the leads that attach to the graphene electrodes, the devices are entirely metal-free. Because it’s easy to transfer graphene to various substrates, the researchers fabricated some devices on flexible plastic. Those units showed no memory degradation upon bending. The team also constructed memory devices on glass, a popular material for handheld electronics. Tour points out that because glass is a popular building material, the devices could add embedded memory to smart glass. Considering silicon oxide’s popularity in the semiconductor industry and graphene’s promise as a transparent electrode material, the researchers think the new memory system has a future in transparent materials in terms of composition and processing.

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