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Stephen J. Mraz

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Researchers at Purdue University have devised a new type of memory chip, the FeTRAM, that could be faster than current commercial versions and use far less power than Flash-memory devices. The new approach builds a ferroelectric transistor by combining silicon nanowires with a ferroelectric polymer, a material that switches polarity when an electric field is applied.

The device resembles FeRAMs, which are in commercial use. But unlike FeRAMs, the new FeTRAM devices will feature nondestructive readout, which means they won’t lose memory contents when they’re read. That’s because they use a ferroelectric transistor instead of a capacitor to store information.

The FeTRAM (ferroelectric-transistor random-access memory) should use 99% less energy than Flash-memory devices once it is properly scaled. When it is improved, researchers hope the FeTRAM will be faster than SRAM. The new technology is compatible with current semiconductor manufacturing processes developed to make complimentary metal oxide semiconductors, or CMOS.

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