Academic institutes and commercial companies have been researching resistance-change memories for many decades. Some of the most promising yet-to-be-commercialized memories are based on metallic-oxide structures but along with that research has come the understanding that at the nanometer-scale silicon oxide structures can demonstrate bistable resistance and non-volatility.
Resistive RAMs, or ReRAMs, promise to take up less space and use less energy than deployed technologies such as NAND flash memory. If silicon and oxygen -- the two most basic materials used in the wafer fab for integrated circuit production -- can be crafted into non-volatile memory, it could be a significant development.
In 2012 a team from University College London published a paper in the Journal of Applied Physics--Resistive switching in silicon suboxide films in which they claimed to be able to perform the change in resistance in silicon oxide films more efficiently than had been previously achieved.
"Our ReRAM memory chips need just a thousandth of the energy and are around a hundred times faster than standard flash memory chips. The fact that the device can operate in ambient conditions and has a continuously variable resistance opens up a huge range of potential applications," said Tony Kenyon of UCL's department of electrical and electronic engineering in a statement at the time.
The UCL team are not alone and not the first in trying to fashion silicon-oxide to perform as a memory. A research team under Professor James Tour at Rice University has also reported progress.
UCL ReRAM test circuits on broken wafer. Source: UCL/Adnan Mehonic
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