The worldwide demand for digital data storage is increasing exponentially. IBM estimates that 2.5 quintillion of digital data bytes are produced every day on Earth (2.5 billion Gigabytes). This huge digital data storage demand has two consequences: a) the increased power consumption of data storage servers; b) the perpetual need to develop data storage technologies that meet the increasing demand at reduced cost and power consumption.
These issues have prompted the acceleration of research into solid-state memories, which are fast replacing traditional magnetic hard disc drives in almost all consumer electronics and portable devices. In Dec. 2016 and Jan. 2017, Dr Vopson, the (PI) of this project and his co-investigator
from Iowa State University, Prof. Tan, proposed and demonstrated, for the first time, a novel solid-state memory effect in bulk anti-ferroelectric ceramic materials [1,2]. Although this is a very promising discovery, the authors pointed out a few issues that required further investigation, including a relaxation process that significantly limited the signal recovered from a memory cell. In
addition, we acknowledged that the effect was observed in bulk anti-ferroelectric materials, while solid-state memory chips are based on thin films. This innovation/research project, supported by a small EPSRC overseas travel grant, seeks to swiftly redress these issues by facilitating five weeks travel to three overseas institutions, in two countries, in order to perform specialized experiments on anti-ferroelectric materials and to acquire key skills that will advance our understanding of anti-ferroelectric materials and potentially accelerate the commercialization of this research. By working with leading
researchers in the field of data storage technologies at Western Digital (WD) - California, physics of anti-ferroelectric materials at Iowa State University (ISU) and experts in Mossbauer Spectroscopy at the National Institute of Materials Physics (NIMP) in Bucharest, the Dr Vopson will have the opportunity to study relaxation processes and memory effect in anti-ferroelectric thin films. In
addition, the PI will acquire valuable new experimental skills such as: fabrication of antiferroelectric materials and their domains imaging using in-situ Transmission Electron Microscopy (ISU), device architecture / solid state memory cell testing (WD) and Mossbauer Spectroscopy (NIMP).
. M. Vopson, X. Tan, 4-state anti-ferroelectric random access memory, Electron Device Letters (2016).
. M. Vopson, G. Caruntu, X. Tan, Polarization reversal and memory effect in anti-ferroelectric materials, Scripta Materialia vol. 128, 61-64 (2017).