The sterile, clean room fabrication process for memory may be a thing of the past if black-footed scientists in California successfully push their organic technology.
In the past few months, several research groups reported promising organic memory prototypes—from devices that function as dynamic random-access memories (DRAMs) to high-capacity, nonrewritable storage media similar to CD-ROMs.
At the University of California, Riverside, progress is being made on a capacitor that will allow dynamic RAM to hold its charge for minutes rather than milliseconds. At HP Labs in Palo Alto, researchers are working with a group at Princeton to develop an stable, inexpensive, write-once medium that can be read by devices with no moving parts.
Like most new technologies, organic memory will first appear in mobile devices, where its lower power consumption will be an instant advantage. Although orgaincs don't offer a performance edge over conventional memory, companies like AMD, IBM, Intel and Philips are investing in research to ensure that ever-increasing memory speed and capacities aren't outrun by costs. Finished products remain several years away, but with the financial backing of high-tech heavies, don't expect this to be the last time you hear about organic memory.