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'instant On' Computing

By National Science Foundation

April 22, 2009

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Researchers supported by the National Science Foundation have achieved a breakthrough in adding ferroelectric materials to silicon, without intervening reaction layers. The development could help other researchers in their effort to usher in instant access to computing, without users having to boot and reboot computer operating systems.

Ferroelectric materials is the same low-power, high-efficiency electronic memory technology that smart cards use to instantly reveal and update stored information when waved before a reader.

The team, led by Cornell University's Darrell Schlom, placed strontium titanate on silicon in a way in which the silicon would squeeze the strontium titanate into a ferroelectric state. "Several hybrid transistors have been proposed specifically with ferroelectrics in mind," Schlom says. "By creating a ferroelectric directly on silicon, we are bringing this possibility closer to realization." The development could lead to a new wave of memory devices that use less power and are faster and more convenient to use.

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