Protein-Templated Fabrication of Nanocrystal Flash Memory

Nanotechnologies : Physical Science Apps

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  • Sanjay Banerjee, Ph.D. , Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Chuanbin Mao, Ph.D. , Chemical Engineering
  • Shan Tang, Ph.D. , Microelectronics Research Center

Background/unmet need

The mobile electronic devices of the future will need lower voltage and power data storage capabilities to continue offering consumers increased functionality and extended battery life. Current non-volatile flash memory technology is reaching the limits of its ability to shrink down. A new approach is needed to keep pace with the technological evolution predicted by Moore′s Law.

Invention Description

Non-volatile flash memory technology can continue to scale down for lower voltage and power applications if new materials are used and/or new memory cell designs are adopted. This invention capitalizes on a combination of technologies. Primarily, a new gate design using nanocrystals can significantly improve the non-volatile charge retention time and also reduces charge leakage. In addition, nanocrystal floating gate flash memories can improve FLASH EEPROM in many areas such as device scaling, erase/write/read speed, operating power and device lifetime.

When combined with a new tunneling layer material, programmability is made easier without the traditional problems of data leakage. A new channel material and a new channel design also reduce the energy required for programming. The combined result is a new flash memory cell capable of fast programming under low voltage and/or low power operating conditions with a much lower failure rate.


  • Low-voltage operation
  • Low-power operation
  • Fast programming
  • Reliable


  • Enhanced gate current
  • Reduced leakage current
  • Reduced failure rate

Market potential/applications

Fast, on-demand data storage for low-voltage, low-power portable electronic devices such as cellular phones, PDAs, digital camera, and MP3 players would benefit greatly from this technology. Image acquisition and semiconductor laser technologies would also benefit from the higher resolution that protein template quantum dot arrays can provide.

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