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Lining Up 'nanodot' Memory

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nickel nanodots

Transmission electron microscope image of nickel nanodots embedded in an aluminum oxide matrix.

Credit: Jagdish Narayan and Ashutosh Tiwari / North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers have developed a method for growing magnetic nanoparticles that could lead to much more dense computer memory devices. The technique arranges magnetic nanodots, particles about six nanometers wide, in orderly arrays, making it easier to use them to store bits of information magnetically. A nanodot chip measuring one centimeter square could, in theory, store a terabit of data, says NCSU professor Jay Narayan.

"The primary innovation is that we can keep all these dots ordered and aligned in the same way," he says. The technique, called domain-matching epitaxy, involves depositing a very thin layer of titanium nitride onto a substrate that serves as a template for the nanodots. The size and spacing of the dots can be controlled by varying the growth conditions, such as temperature.

The nickel-based nanodots require low temperatures to function, but the researchers are working on making them out of iron-platinum, which should enable them operate at room temperature.

From Technology Review
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