London, March 9 : German and Turk researchers have shown that storing information into tiny semiconductors called quantum dots is just a matter of nanoseconds.
Dieter Bimberg, a researcher at the Technical University of Berlin who led the project, said that said that quantum dots could fill the gap left by modern-day computer memory by facilitating rapid and long-lasting information storage.
He said that memory based quantum dots can provide a storage speed nearly as fast as quick dynamic access memory (DRAM), which computer these days use for short-term memory.
According to him, a tightly packed array of the tiny islands, each around 15 nanometers across, could store one terabyte (1000 gigabytes) of data per square inch.
The researchers even demonstrated that they could write information to the quantum dots in just six nanoseconds.
"The very first prototype of the new quantum-dot-based memory is already as almost fast as a DRAM," New Scientist magazine quoted study co-author Andreas Marent, also from the Technical University of Berlin, as saying.
The quantum dots that researchers used in their study were a blend of two semiconductors, indium arsenide and gallium arsenide. Similar dots made with other materials were also found to be fast, at 14 nanoseconds.
Marent said that quantum dots could be made even faster. Pointing out that the physical limit of the write time for quantum dots is in the picosecond range, he said that it suggested that "a better device prototype should be more than 100 times faster than today's DRAM."
Aimin Song of the University of Manchester, UK, said that the first demonstration of ultra-fast writing to quantum dots"suggests that quantum dots may be more useful for memory than researchers had thought."
Song further said that the project Bimberg's work might stimulate a lot of interest from the computing industry, for large amounts of data are being stored and retrieved and "the writing time has been rapidly becoming a limiting factor with conventional memories."
A report describing Bimberg's work has been published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.