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Discovery of a “Holy Grail” with the invention of universal computer memory

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A new type of computer memory which could solve the digital technology energy crisis has been invented and patented by Lancaster scientists.

The electronic memory device – described in research published in Scientific Reports - promises to transform daily life with its ultra-low energy consumption.

In the home, energy savings from efficient lighting and appliances have been completely wiped out by increased use of computers and gadgets, and by 2025 a ‘tsunami of data’ is expected to consume a fifth of global electricity.

But this new device would immediately reduce peak power consumption in data centres by a fifth.

It would also allow, for example, computers which do not need to boot up and could instantaneously and imperceptibly go into an energy-saving sleep mode – even between key stokes.

The device is the realisation of the search for a “Universal Memory” which has preoccupied scientists and engineers for decades.

Physics Professor Manus Hayne of Lancaster University said: “Universal Memory, which has robustly stored data that is easily changed, is widely considered to be unfeasible, or even impossible, but this device demonstrates its contradictory properties.”

A US patent has been awarded for the electronic memory device with another patent pending, while several companies have expressed an interest or are actively involved in the research.

The inventors of the device used quantum mechanics to solve the dilemma of choosing between stable, long-term data storage and low-energy writing and erasing.

The device could replace the $100bn market for Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), which is the ‘working memory’ of computers, as well as the long-term memory in flash drives.

While writing data to DRAM is fast and low-energy, the data is volatile and must be continuously ‘refreshed’ to avoid it being lost: this is clearly inconvenient and inefficient. Flash stores data robustly, but writing and erasing is slow,

energy intensive and deteriorates it, making it unsuitable for working memory.

Professor Hayne said: “The ideal is to combine the advantages of both without their drawbacks, and this is what we have demonstrated. Our device has an intrinsic data storage time that is predicted to exceed the age of the Universe, yet it can record or delete data using 100 times less energy than DRAM.”

The research has been funded by EPSRC through an Impact Acceleration Account and the Future Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Hub (EP/P006973/1), the Joy Welch Educational Charitable Trust, and IQE plc. It has recently gained EC funding from the prestigious ATTRACT project aimed at breakthrough technologies (Grant Agreement 777222).


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Pretty vague. So how fast is it then, because many of these holy grails and revolutions turn out not so revolutionary in practice. And that IS the key selling point here...
 
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Tailored product aimed at specific task NEVER has surpassed an universal.

Like asking a drag race car to do dumpster truck job.
 
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The other elephant in the room here is the fact that it is completely reliant on some quite rare elements (gallium and indium especially), so if it is the revolution that they claim it is, there's not going to be anywhere near enough supply of those elements (indium supply is already a problem for touch screen devices). The gallium supply especially is going to get worse as it is primarily sourced from the fly ash from coal plants and since they're going away, we only have a reducing supply.
 
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The other elephant in the room here is the fact that it is completely reliant on some quite rare elements (gallium and indium especially),
Two points;
1. Those two elements are, due to advances in both mining technology and mining methodology, have and are becoming easier and thus less expensive to acquire.
2. In this application, the amounts used in the process described above are so very small that a single gram of each would be enough to make hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of devices when mass produced.
 
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Those two elements are, due to advances in both mining technology and mining methodology, have and are becoming easier and thus less expensive to acquire.
Yes, but Indium will never meet demand at best case in any near scenario It is already near silver in raw ppm rarity. Current global production is 5x less than gold. It will take a long time to make feasible.
 
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It is already near silver in raw ppm rarity.
Um, Silver is not rare, nor is it difficult to mine. Were you thinking of Palladium? Either way, there is enough production of Indium to supply the wolrd's needs several times over currently.
 
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Were you thinking of Palladium?
No. Silver is rare in the sense that industrial demand ensures it has a high value because demand always exceeds supply. This would be the same, industrial demand would surge massively. At any rate, that'd be if we literally were mining at 100% efficiency. Since we are currently mining at 5x less than the rate of gold, we'd need to increase global mining output to around a hundredfold it's present levels to reach even silver levels (I am assuming gold and silver to be roughly equally developed mining tech) and be economical for mass production usage.

That's not going to be easy, possibly not even feasible. No other way to say it.

Math follows:
Earths crust:
ppm silver 0.1 (Indium is really close)
ppm gold 0.004


0.1÷0.004=25, then 25 x 5 (mining factor under gold production, probably similar to silver production efficiency) = 125x production increase to match silver production

May have messed up somewhere and figures are approximate, but it sure seems a large obstacle.
 
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This is similar to an EEPROM structure; I'm assuming the 'resonant tunneling' part is the new, patentable part.

Indium isn't that rare; it's #68 in occurrence and is extracted from Zinc, which we mine a lot of for batteries and 'potmetal' for casting easily broken stuff.

Indium solder is about $25 a foot, I have a roll.

A 3nm layer is so small, a single cc, 7.31grams, deposited that thick makes a square 18m on a side...

Math is wonderful, when properly applied. :)
 
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Oh yay another competing product to DRAM that wont ever be seen in the light of day the rights to it will be bought up and hidden away in a super secret vault never to be seen again
 
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Indium isn't that rare; it's #68 in occurrence and is extracted from Zinc, which we mine a lot of for batteries and 'potmetal' for casting easily broken stuff.
You beat me to the punch on this one.
Indium solder is about $25 a foot, I have a roll.
Oh, less expensive than that.
 
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Indium isn't that rare
Nor is silver. The problem is this would shoot demand through the roof to a level similar to that of silver... or at least I'd assume. Computer industry is hungry, and Indium production is NOT there. As I've said, indium production worldwide is 5x less than gold.

You might want to invest in those indium rolls if this turns out to be true...

EDIT: Though, I'm going to back away from my "insurmountable" claim. I've recently read some more papers on the matter, particularly this:


which indicates it is only 20x less mined than silver. It's also already being ramped up for the LCD industry... That lessons my concerns, and it does correctly point out electronics recycling ensures reuse even if we did somehow reach depletion. So who knows? Doesn't look near as bad though.
 
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Oh, less expensive than that.
Click > add to cart > buy.

Thanks!
It's much better at $3.xx a foot, although what I have is fluxless pure indium, for soldering SiPM devices.
They used to be really delicate; You'd hate to see what I paid for solderballs.
:)

Indium is one of the few metals that will coat glass with a transparent, conductive coating.
I've made capacitive button touch sensors with this solder. :)
On Automotive glass, lol.
 
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Nor is silver. The problem is this would shoot demand through the roof to a level similar to that of silver... or at least I'd assume.
It would be interesting to see how that turns out if this tech makes it to commercial market.

EDIT: Though, I'm going to back away from my "insurmountable" claim. I've recently read some more papers on the matter, particularly this:

which indicates it is only 20x less mined than silver. It's also already being ramped up for the LCD industry... That lessons my concerns, and it does correctly point out electronics recycling ensures reuse. So who knows?
That wasn't the article I read, but that about sums it up. As I was saying earlier, the technology to mine is improving greatly coupled by the improvements in the methodologies used to find deposits of needed elements.

Click > add to cart > buy.

Thanks!
Glad I could help you out! :toast:
 
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