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Nano-Scale Memory Fits A Terabit On A Square Inch

Jung

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http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/27/225234&from=rss
"San Jose Business Journal talks about Nanochip, a company that's developing molecular-scale memory: "Nanochip has developed prototype arrays of atomic-force probes, tiny instruments used to read and write information at the molecular level. These arrays can record up to one trillion bits of data -- known as a terabit -- in a single square inch. That's the storage density that magnetic hard disk drive makers hope to achieve by 2010. It's roughly equivalent to putting the contents of 25 DVDs on a chip the size of a postage stamp." The story also mentions Millipede project from IBM, where scientists are trying to build nano-scale memory that relies on micromechanical components."
http://sanjose.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2005/02/21/story5.html
In the early 1990s, IBM scientists used a new-fangled atomic-force probe to stack up 35 atoms spelling out the word "IBM" in microsocopic letters. Researchers at the Almaden research center guessed it would take 25 or 30 years -- if ever -- before data storage took advantage of the new technology.

Fremont-based startup called Nanochip Inc. has developed prototype arrays of atomic-force probes, tiny instruments used to read and write information at the molecular level. These arrays can record up to one trillion bits of data -- known as a terabit -- in a single square inch. That's the storage density that magnetic hard disk drive makers hope to achieve by 2010. It's roughly equivalent to putting the contents of 25 DVDs on a chip the size of a postage stamp.

The accomplishment mirrors that achieved by IBM Research's Millipede project, a "promising research project" that is not in the product development phase, the company says. But Nanochip, which has patents on its version of the technology that pre-date IBM's, uses different materials and processes.

And Nanochip is now struggling with an even greater challenge -- developing the microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, needed to control the probes and the mass production techniques required to bring to market this new type of so-called non-volatile memory, or data storage that doesn't require power to keep stored bits in place.

If successful, Nanochip's technology could take the $7 billion flash memory market -- which may begin to bump up against its miniaturization limits by the close of this decade -- in an entirely new direction. Imagine, for instance, recording dozens of hours of high-quality digital video on your mobile phone or storing your entire digital music collection your PDA.

CEO Gordon Knight, a 25-year storage industry veteran, believes Nanochip could be offering its first product by mid-2007. But there may be unforeseen stumbling blocks along the way.

"We're bullish, but it's like peeling an onion one layer after another," Mr. Knight says. "It's exciting and fun and we've got some great investors. We also have a lot of work to do."

The company has lined up two fabrication partners, a Silicon Valley laboratory that Mr. Knight would not identify, and a Singapore manufacturer called MEMS Technology SHD Bhd, also known as AKN Technology. Investors -- which include AKN Technology, New Enterprise Associates in Menlo Park, JK&B Capital in Chicago and, in a rare venture investment, Microsoft --so far have put $23.4 million into Nanochip, which employs roughly a dozen people.

At the same time, IBM's research lab in Zurich has put tens of millions of dollars toward Millipede and devoted scores of researchers to the project, including the Nobel Prize winner who created the first scanning tunneling microscope to use an atomic force probe. Researchers at IBM Almaden Research Lab in San Jose helped develop new materials for Millipede.
Read more: Page 2

:thumbsup: nanotechnology! This is definitely the future of electronics and man, many other industries.