CEO interview: Nantero's Schmergel says NRAM production is close

March 29, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
Nantero Inc. (Woburn, Mass.), founded in 2001, has been ploughing a painstaking path towards the introduction of its carbon nanotube (CNT) based non-volatile memory technology. eeNews Europe caught up with CEO Greg Schmergel and asked about progress.

But first a reminder of the technology.

Nano-RAM, or NRAM, includes a thin layer matrix of randomly organized CNTs often adjacent to or within a transistor stack. When a voltage pulse is applied the matrix is flexed to create many points of contact between CNTs and, as a result, multiple conduction paths through the matrix layer thereby lowering resistance. Van der Waals forces hold the CNTs in contact after the pulse. To reset the memory a reverse voltage is used and heating/phonon effects break the van der Waals forces allowing most CNTs to separate and reducing the number of conduction paths and raising the resistence. However, those van der Waals forces also make the memory highly reliable. It retains memory for more than 1,000 years at 95 degrees C and more than 10 years at 300 degrees C, Nantero claims. The resulting memory offers switching speeds of the order of 20 picoseconds at low energy together with a practical write speed of 5ns with endurance of the order of 10^11 cycles tested so far without failure, and an expectation of far higher endurance.

1T1R NRAM memory cell. Source: Nantero Inc.

Nantero uses an intellectual property licensing business model and has claimed for several years to have a number of licensees and to have its technology installed in multiple wafer fabs. But Nantero has not been at liberty to reveal many names.

Two known licensees are fabless chip company Fujitsu Semiconductor and foundry Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor (see Fujitsu is licensee of Nantero's carbon-nanotube RAM ) and Dell Computer has been revealed as an investor in Nantero (see Dell is backer of carbon nanotube RAM pioneer).

So we started by asking on when the first products would come to market.

Next: Products; when?


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