Ultra-thin “white graphene” can store large amounts of data

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered an unusual property of the so-called “white graphene” – the ability to store information as a server.

Scientists have made thin sheets of boron nitride on which you can write a lot of information. However, this experimental medium has a significant drawback – it is afraid of the strong influence of an electric field, which somewhat contradicts the method of recording information.

17 years ago, scientists developed an ultra-thin material made from one layer of atoms – graphene. If its flat sheets are folded and twisted together at a slight angle, then its new properties are manifested – superconductivity or magnetism. Boron nitride is called “white graphene” because it has a structure similar to graphene.

Recently, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they discovered the ability of two sheets of boron nitride, located in parallel, to be a ferroelectric – a material in which positive and negative charges move in different directions (poles). Under the influence of an external electric field, these charges change their pole.

“White graphene” is a billionth of a meter thick, and the best temperature for working with it is room temperature, so there are many uses for it. Among the most promising is the creation of dense storage devices based on it, because switching between the poles will encode digital information in the form of ones and zeros. Perhaps, in the future, boron nitride or similar structures will completely replace bulky computer servers.

The lead author of the study, Kenji Yasuda, believes that information can be stored for a very long time – until the material again falls into an electric field. In addition, the twisting of parallel sheets at an angle made it possible to create a new type of ferroelectric state, whose mechanisms are fundamentally different from those previously known.

The off-plane switching of the ferroelectric occurs due to the sliding motion in the plane between two sheets of boron nitride. This unique link between vertical polarization and horizontal movement is provided by the lateral stiffness of boron nitride.

The authors of the study are confident that the new technology can be applied to other materials with a similar atomic structure, which in themselves do not have ferroelectric properties. At the moment, science knows only a few thin ferroelectrics.

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