Dr. James M. Tour, a synthetic organic chemist at Houston’s Rice University, along with his colleagues, have developed a new type of memory chip that is transparent, can be folded like paper, and withstand temperatures of up to 538 degrees Celsius. They believe that it could replace flash memory in thumb drives, smartphones, and computers.
The new chip is made of an inert insulating layer of silicon oxide that is configured with two terminals per bit of information as opposed to the three terminals that standard chips use, and this allows for more data storage within the same footprint. Because they are flexible and transparent, these chips can be integrated into the touch-screen of future devices, further saving space and also making the screens less fragile. This means that devices could be made even thinner than they already are today.
Dr. Tour and his colleagues are hoping to test these new chips in the high radiation of outer space at the International Space Station in July. They are also talking to electronics manufacturers to get them onto future devices.