A new hope for ultra-high-density-memory The first columnar ferroelectric liquid crystal

July 4, 2012

Ferroelectrics are materials that reverse their electrical polarization when an electric field is applied and retain that polarization even when the electric field is removed. Such materials would be ideal for non-volatile memory, allowing the rewriting of information at high-speed and low voltage, and retaining information even when powered off.

©Takuzo Aida
Schematic illustration of the response mechanism of the newly-developed ferroelectrical columnar liquid crystal to an applied electric field. The yellow arrow indicates the direction of the electric field. The column of umbrella-shaped liquid crystal molecules (colored blue) reverses orientation parallel to the column axis in accordance with the direction of the applied electric field, and the polarization of the column is also reversed.

One class of materials that has been attracting attention as a candidate for use in a ferroelectric memory device is liquid crystals. These have a number of benefits, including that the possibility of recording almost on the molecular level, simplification of the fabrication process, and weight reduction. However, even though researchers around the world have been trying to develop ferroelectric liquid crystal materials appropriate for memory devices, none have succeeded in developing a material that maintains stable polarization.

Recently, University of Tokyo Graduate School of Engineering Professor Takuzo Aida, doctoral student Daigo Miyajima, and their research group have for the first time succeeded in developing a ferroelectric columnar liquid crystal material with a dedicated molecular design.

The developed columnar liquid crystal consists of a core-shell structure of umbrella-shaped molecules piled up in a column. If each column of this new material were used as a single bit, the memory density of the material would be more than a thousand times that of current Blu-ray technology.

There remain several issues to be resolved before this new material will see application in memory devices, including reliable read and write access. However, this development of a ferroelectric material and application of a liquid crystal material is a highly important achievement in both basic and applied research, and provides a completely new approach to the problem of creating memory devices.

Department release/press release


Daigo Miyajima, Fumito Araoka, Hideo Takezoe, Jungeun Kim, Kenichi Kato, Masaki Takata and Takuzo Aida,
“Ferroelectric Columnar Liquid Crystal Featuring Confined Polar Groups Within Core-Shell Architecture”,
Science, 2012 (April 13 issue), doi:10.1126/science.1217954
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