A common plastic used to keep monitor screens clear of fluff
could soon be used as a high-density computer memory.
In the journal Nature, the US researchers behind the discovery
say it could let them pack a gigabyte of data into a sugar
The material is also very cheap to manufacture and data can be
written down and read back from it quickly.
The researchers predict that it could take only a few years to
turn their discovery into working devices.
The full name of the plastic is polyethylenedioxythiophene,
usually abbreviated to Pedot, and it is a candidate for storage
because it conducts electricity.
Before now this has led the transparent plastic being used as an
anti-static coating for computer screens and other devices to
keep them clear of dust and fluff.
But another use for the material has been found by Sven Moller
and Professor Stephen Forrest from Princeton University working
with Warren Jackson and Craig Perlov from the Hewlett-Packard
Laboratories in Palo Alto, California.
In a recent paper in the journal Nature, the research team
describe how they put blobs of Pedot between two grids of
At low voltages Pedot conducts electricity but with a strong
enough jolt of power it becomes permanently non-conducting.
The researchers used these polar properties to represent the 0s
and 1s of digital memory in their Pedot/electrode sandwich.
Any device resulting from their work would be a "write-once,
read-many" format and could perhaps be used to store films or
The researchers speculate that very dense memory blocks could be
created by stacking the thin layers of the material on top of
They team estimates that working devices could be up to 10 times
more dense than current hard disks.