Nanoscale memory cell based on a nanoelectromechanical switched capacitor

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The demand for increased information storage densities has pushed silicon technology to its limits and led to a focus on research on novel materials and device structures, such as magnetoresistive random access memory1,2,3 and carbon nanotube field-effect transistors4,5,6,7,8,9, for ultra-large-scale integrated memory10. Electromechanical devices are suitable for memory applications because of their excellent ‘ON–OFF’ ratios and fast switching characteristics, but they involve larger cells and more complex fabrication processes than silicon-based arrangements11,12,13. Nanoelectromechanical devices based on carbon nanotubes have been reported previously14,15,16,17, but it is still not possible to control the number and spatial location of nanotubes over large areas with the precision needed for the production of integrated circuits. Here we report a novel nanoelectromechanical switched capacitor structure based on vertically aligned multiwalled carbon nanotubes in which the mechanical movement of a nanotube relative to a carbon nanotube based capacitor defines ‘ON’ and ‘OFF’ states. The carbon nanotubes are grown with controlled dimensions at pre-defined locations on a silicon substrate in a process that could be made compatible with existing silicon technology, and the vertical orientation allows for a significant decrease in cell area over conventional devices. We have written data to the structure and it should be possible to read data with standard dynamic random access memory sensing circuitry. Simulations suggest that the use of high-k dielectrics in the capacitors will increase the capacitance to the levels needed for dynamic random access memory applications.

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Figure 1: A NEM switch based on vertically aligned multiwalled carbon nanotubes.
Figure 2: NEM switching characteristics.
Figure 3: The capacitance of a NEM switch.
Figure 4: Writing and reading data to a NEM memory cell.


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Author information

J.E.J. was involved in project conception, planning, experimental work and data analysis, S.N.C. in project conception, experimental work and data analysis, Y.J.C., T.B., D.J.K. and J.E. Jung in experimental work, D.G.H. in experimental guidance and direction, J.M.K. in project conception and data analysis, G.A.J.A. in project conception and guidance, data analysis and interpretation.

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to G.A.J.A.

Correspondence to Gehan A. J. Amaratunga.

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Jang, J., Cha, S., Choi, Y. et al. Nanoscale memory cell based on a nanoelectromechanical switched capacitor. Nature Nanotech 3, 26–30 (2008) doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.417

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