Spanier and Collaborators’ Work Featured in the Media

Published on Wednesday May 3, 2006

The research work of Dr. Jonathan Spanier and his collaborators from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University has recently been featured in a number of newspapers and journals, both online and in print, from April 28th to May 2, 2006.

Spanier and his collaborators have demonstrated that a little water can help create ultra-dense storage systems for computers and electronics. They have proposed a new and surprisingly effective means of stabilizing and controlling ferroelectricity in nanostructures: terminating their surfaces with fragments of water. Ferroelectrics are technologically important "smart" materials for many applications because they have local dipoles, which can be switched to orient in different directions to encode and store information. The team's work is reported in the April issue of Nano Letters.

Spanier and his colleagues successfully demonstrated the benefits of using water fragments and other molecules to stabilize memory bits in segments of oxide nanowires that are only about 3 billionths of a meter wide. In this investigation, the researchers probed oxide nanowires individually to characterize the size-dependence of ferroelectricity and performed calculations and experiments to validate the presence of molecules on oxide surfaces and detail their important role in nanoscale ferroelectricity. Significantly, these results show that ferroelectric surfaces with water fragments or other molecules can stabilize ferroelectricity in smaller structures than previously thought.

Though a scheme for the dense arrangement and addressing of these nanowires remains to be developed, such an approach would enable a storage density of more than 100,000 terabits per cubic centimeter. If this memory density can be realized commercially, a device the size of an iPod nano could hold enough MP3 music to play for 300,000 years without repeating a song or enough DVD quality video to play movies for 10,000 years without repetition.

This work is supported at Drexel by the Army Research Office, and at Penn and Harvard by the National Science Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the Dreyfus Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the Center for Piezoelectric Design.

For further information on this work, please visit:

Stories about the research can be found in the following:

New Scientist

United Press International

The Inquirer,,,,,,,,,,, and,,,,,,,,,,,, and

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