Scientists design first see-through computer chip

December 10th, 2008 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 10 (IANS) Korean scientists have fabricated a functional computer chip that is almost completely clear - the first of its kind. The technology could spur development of clear computer and TV screens, embedded in glass or transparent plastic.

Besides, see-through electronics would make your room or wall more spacious by allowing such devices to be stacked in small clear spaces.

The new technology, called transparent resistive random access memory (TRRAM) chip, is similar to an existing commercial chip known as complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) memory - providing data storage for USB flash drives and other devices.

Like CMOS devices, the new chip provides “non-volatile” memory, meaning it stores digital information without losing data when it is powered off. Unlike CMOS devices, however, the new TRRAM chip is almost completely clear.

Scientists at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) who developed the chip, are also designing TRRAM using flexible materials.

“It is a new milestone of transparent electronic systems,” said researcher Jung Won Seo, the study co-author. “By integrating TRRAM device with other transparent electronic components, we can create a total see-through embedded electronic system.”

Technically, TRRAM device rely upon an existing technology known as resistive random access memory (RRAM), which is already in commercial development for future electronic data storage devices, said a KAIST release.

RRAM is built using metal oxide materials, which are very transparent. What the Korean team did was to build a chip by sandwiching these metal oxide materials between equally transparent electrodes and substrates.

According to the Korean team, TRRAM devices are easy to fabricate and may be commercially available in a few years. Seo predicted that the new transparent devices will drive electronics in new directions.

The work appeared in this week’s issue of Applied Physics Letters, published by the American Institute of Physics.

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