Atom-Thin Materials for Memory Devices

Flexible electronics guru Deji Akinwande coined a term for a discovery made after Ruijing Ge, a first-year graduate student from the University of Texas at Austin convinced her that two-dimensional atom-thin materials can make good memory devices.

What is the term coined for this discovery?


The discovery came after these engineers tried to sandwiched an atom-thick layer of molybdenum disulfide between two electrodes. The experiment showed that, contrary to expectation, the structure displayed memristance. This can be set to a high or low resistance state by particular voltages and remain stable long after the voltage is removed.

Schematic of TMD lithography-free and transfer-free sandwich (TE and BE are gold, if not specified) based on MoS2 grown on Au foil. Representative I–V curve of bipolar resistive switching behavior in monolayer MoS2 crossbar device with lateral area of 2 × 2 μm2. (Source:

Akinwande suggests a theory that there is neither an oxygen nor a vertical direction for it to move. He hypothesized that defects in the 2D crystal lattice—the holes left by occasional missing sulfur atoms, for instance—is what keeps it moving around. Voltage of one polarity attracts the defects, bunching them together in a way that decreases the resistance across the material. Switching the polarity scatters the defects, ramping the resistance back up.


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