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RRAM memory could be used to store data and energy

​RRAM, for Resistive Random Access Memory, is heralded as the replacement for today's flash memory. New research shows that RRAM could also provide energy storage.

Published on 2 December 2021

​Researchers at CEA-Leti decided to take a rather unconventional approach to RRAM, using RRAM memory points to store energy instead of data. And it worked! Their research confirmed that RRAM memory planes do work as an energy storage medium, offering supercapacitor-level power and energy density.

RRAM takes advantage of the contrasting resistivity in a naturally insulating material to store information. The material's two states—low and high resistivity—represent the two values in binary code. The high resistivity state is induced by creating a filament between two metal plates. An electrochemical reaction that can be reversed by adding energy then occurs. Reversing the reaction induces the low resistivity state, which releases energy.

For the first time ever, researchers at CEA-Leti demonstrated that energy can be stored in off-the-shelf memory by only partially creating the RRAM conductive filament, and that the energy can then be released by deconstructing the filament. The result? An energy storage system! They also showed that RRAM memory points can store as much energy as supercapacitors for the same storage volume.

This discovery opens the door to in-memory and, therefore, near-processor energy storage, which could substantially reduce circuit energy consumption. It also means that memory could be used to store both information and energy.

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