Princeton University and Hewlett-Packard
Laboratories researchers have constructed a very low cost data storage
device from plastic and silicon that can potentially store one hundred
megabits of information per square centimeter.
The device is made from thin-film silicon electronics covered
with a conductive polymer coating. The coating, dubbed Pedot, was first
used as an antistatic coating for photographic film and is also used as
a transparent electric contact for some types of video displays.
The researchers discovered that the material is conductive only
at low voltages, and permanently loses its conductivity -- like a blown
fuse -- when exposed to higher voltages. Tiny squares of conducting and
non-conducting Pedot can represent the ones and zeros of computer information,
and millions can be wired into a layered grid of circuits. Such memory
can be read by sending a low voltage through all the squares and noting
those that conduct and those that do not.
The researchers' device combines attributes of solid-state silicon
memory devices and plastic storage devices like CDs. The method to be
used to make a memory card that has no moving parts and can be written
to once, but accessed many times.
The device could probably be made cheaply enough for one-time-use
applications, according to the researchers.
The memory devices could be commercially viable in five years,
according to the researchers. The work appeared in the October 12, 2003
issue of Nature.
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