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Silicon oxide switches or memory locations require only two terminals, not three (as in flash memory); the physical process does not require the device to hold a charge. Further, each memory element can be stacked vertically providing dense 3-D memory arrays.
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Applying a charge to the electrodes created a conductive pathway by stripping oxygen atoms from the silicon oxide and forming a chain of nano-sized silicon crystals. Once formed, the chain can be repeatedly broken and reconnected by applying a pulse of varying voltage.

Silicon Oxide Memory

We discovered that silicon oxide, thought by some to be only useful as an insulating layer in memory devices, to be additionally useful as an active component. This work was started by an exceptional graduate student, Jun Yao, who was co-advised by Prof. Douglas Natelson, Prof. Lin Zhong and me. Jun gathered much data before he convinced me that what he was seeing was real. The mechanism of the memory process was imaged and transparent nonvolatile resistive memory devices were fabricated using silicon oxide and graphene, and other materials. This technology holds promise for use in wearable electronics and other applications where transparent memory could be important and the process is now being commercialized by Weebit LLC.


a. Yao, J.; Zhong, L.; Natelson, D.; Tour, J. M. Silicon Oxide: A Non-innocent Surface for Molecular Electronics and Nanoelectronics Studies. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 941-948.
b. Yao, J.; Zhong, L.; Natelson, D.; Tour, J. M. Intrinsic Resistive Switching and Memory Effects in Silicon Oxide. Appl. Phys. A 2011, 102, 835-839.
c. Yao, J.; Zhong, L.; Natelson, D.; Tour, J. M. In situ Imaging of the Conducting Filament in a Silicon Oxide Resistive Switch. Nature Scientific Reports 2012, 2:242, 1-5.
d. Yao, J.; Lin, J.; Dai, Y.; Ruan, G.; Yan, Z.; Li, L.; Zhong, L.; Natelson, D.; Tour, J. M. Highly Transparent Nonvolatile Resistive Memory Devices from Silicon Oxide and Graphene. Nature Commun. 2012, 3, 1-8.

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