SBIR Phase I:Massively Dense 3D Integrated Memory

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
NSF 09-609
Small Business Information
1250 Cap of Texas Hwy South, West Lake Hills, TX, 78746
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator
 Burt Fowler
 (512) 523-9033
Business Contact
 Burt Fowler
Title: PhD
Phone: (512) 523-9033
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will further develop a two-terminal, electronically-programmable, nonvolatile memory array using materials commonly found in integrated circuit (IC) manufacturing. Each element is smaller than a single transistor and is formed using standard IC layers. This results in a three-dimensional integrated memory (3DIM) architecture achieved using a single substrate without the need for attaching multiple die together with advanced bonding techniques. The ON/OFF conductance ratio and switching speed of these devices exceed the performance of competing technologies. Current flows through nanometer-sized regions of the device, and, as a result, each device will scale to smaller dimensions as IC technology continues to progress towards smaller feature sizes without reducing the current through the device, thereby resulting in a dense memory array architecture with signal-to-noise ratio that will improve for each subsequent IC technology. The proposed overall program will include integrating a passivation layer, connecting each element with a diode, optimizing device architecture to minimize footprint, and implementing 3DIM control and drive interface electronics. The program proposed herein addresses the topic by providing material innovations for improved performance in electronics where nano-scale semiconducting filaments are fabricated within a dielectric material for commercial data storage applications. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project are in the areas of microelectronics chip manufacturing for wireless, hand-held, mobile internet and other portable devices using non-volatile memory. Materials exhibiting two-terminal, electronically-programmable conductance can potentially impact numerous commercial markets including flash and embedded memory, and will offer orders of magnitude more data storage density as currently-available memory technologies. By implementing massively dense 3D memory array architecture on a single substrate, there is no need to fabricate two substrates and bond them together, thereby greatly simplifying the fabrication process, reducing manufacturing cost and increasing product yield. Some recent approaches to achieve 3D memory on a single substrate have not been successful due to problems with external fields causing bit errors and low signal-to-noise ratio, or because device operation is based on thermal, ionic transport, or phase-change mechanisms that are inherently slow. The proposed memory elements are controlled using electrical signals rather than thermal or chemical energy, making them highly efficient and much faster than competing technologies. In addition to portable devices, the proposed 3D device may find applications in space-based earth sciences and astronomy since it is tolerant to x-ray and high-energy proton radiation. Additional testing in planned for other radiation types.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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