Flash Memory’s Future: Phase-Changing Nanoparticles?

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Nanoparticles for flash memory

Flash memory as we know it could be revolutionized with the discovery of a nanoparticle technology simply known as BEANs (or “binary eutectic-alloy nanostructures” for those of you that can handle the scientific mouthful).

The Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab is responsible for discovering the material.  BEANs are capable of switching between crystalline and amorphous states in just nanoseconds.

According to one article, the physics researchers noted that a doubled nanostructure of crystalline metallic and crystalline semiconductor formed by embedding amorphous silica with nanocrystals.  The phase changes are prompted by the use of lasers and electrical currents.

BEANs still have a long road of research ahead before it embarks on real-world settings like your flash memory and USB drives.  Berkeley Lab has yet to determine whether the nano-particles can endure multiple phase changes and integrate with wire geometry, but they sound hopeful.

Flash memory as it is—which is present in our USB drives and other storage applications—uses tunnels of negative electrons to alter the charge of the data stored in cells which erases and helps pave the way to rewriting the content.  With BEANs, a new way to store memory for your thumb drive and various electronic storage devices may be possible through a shift to phase-changing technologies.  Just like flash, it would retain the concept of low-powered, non-volatile storage.  Additionally, imagining more storage at a nanosecond rate is an exciting possibility.

What do you think about BEANs and its role for your USB and other flash storage devices?

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