Rice’s transparent memory is based upon the 2010 discovery that pushing a strong charge through standard silicon oxide, an insulator widely used in electronics, forms channels of pure silicon crystals less than 5 nanometers wide. The initial voltage appears to strip oxygen atoms from the silicon oxide; lesser charges then repeatedly break and reconnect the circuit and turn it into nonvolatile memory. A smaller signal can be used to poll the memory state without altering it. That discovery was reported on the front page of the New York Times. The Rice lab has since developed a working two-terminal memory device that can be stacked in a three-dimensional configuration and attached to a flexible substrate.
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