back to article Texan prof sees big future for graphene storage

A Texan boffin says he has seen the future of storage - and it's graphite based. Professor James Tour of Rice Uni in Houston believes that his proposed graphene arrays could be many times denser and faster than existing storage tech, and they'd be more reliable too. Tour's system works using strips of graphite ten atoms thick …


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  1. Richard_C

    sounds familiar

    hmm, storing information using graphite... thats called a pencil isn't it?

    Mines the one with the HB2 in the pocket

    (apologies, sure this is one of a veritable avalance of pencil based comments)

  2. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    Get out of here

    Four times smaller than current silicon processes?

    That'll keep Moore's Law at bay for, ooh, three years. Which is almost certainly less than the time to market.

    I call bullshit.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    hasn't graphite based storage been done?

    I think it was called "pencil and paper".....

    mine's the coat with the No. 2 and legal pad in the pocket

  4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Ever tried to purify graphite or buy purified one?

    Ever tried to purify graphite? It is very difficult. In fact it remains one of the stumbling blocks for any nation to become a nuclear power.

    Ever tried to export purified graphite? You will have the boys from MI5,6 and various other 3 letter abbreviations knocking on your door in a matter minutes. For quite obvious reasons. Sufficiently pure graphite is on the list of nuclear materials.

    Ever tried to transfer technology for purification of graphite to another country? Same as above.

    Black helicopters ahoy!!!

  6. Drakkenson

    good old pencils

    So, terabyte storage in a pencil?

  7. Dr. Mouse Silver badge


    The inventor of a new technology says "My new tech is better than everything else!"

    On a more optimistic level, this does look promising, although I share the same reservations as those who commented before me (i.e. time to market vs ongoing development of existing tech and difficulties with graphite).

  8. Edward Miles

    Repeat after me...

    Graphite != Graphene

  9. DT

    What's to complain about?

    So Eddie,

    4 times smaller in one dimension, 16x more elements in the same area ~ 6yrs of Moore's law.

    Only the most whiney el Reg poster could see downside of such advancements. What are you complaining about, 16x denser packing isn't acceptable to you?

    I tell you what Ed, why don't you come up with something better? If you think things like this are BS; I suggest you don't buy those which reach market, and stick to your own graphene solution.

  10. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge


    Graphite != Graphene.

    I don't know too much about the materials used as moderators in nuclear reactors, but I'd be prepared to bet good money the graphite they use is composed of large blocks of disordered material in order to make its neutron-absorbing properties isotropic.

    Graphene, on the other hand is a highly ordered material, being composed as it is of single 'sheets' of graphite.

    Rather than purifiying it from bulk graphite, as you imply, it would be manufactured using some sort of plasma vapour deposition (PVD) technique to manufacture 1-atom thick sheets. I would imagine that these would be of negligable use in a nuclear reactor as your average high-velovity neutron is going to go straight through something that is one ten millionth of a millimetre thick.

    I don't think you'd happen to have too much difficulty from the authorities if found to be transporting graphene-based electronics, in much the same way that customs aren't going to be too bothered about the gold-plating on the headphone jack on your mp3 player when you go through the airport, but might be interested in a little chat over a cup of tea if you were carrying a suitcase full of gold bullion...

  11. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    @ Get out of here

    Moores law related to transistors.

    These are not transistors.

  12. LaeMi Qian Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Fuse programmable ROMS make a come-back. Re-programmable and all. Though a write-once version would suit most of my application needs which are predominantly archival.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually, not 16x the density

    One of the interesting things about flash is that you can actually store more than two levels of charge in each floating gate- thereby storing more than one bit per cell. Obviously you can't do that with graphene...

  14. Muscleguy Silver badge

    No! not the vinyl carpet!

    So, we can forget about the risk of random magnets wiping stuff with graphene memory. But what about static? I can imagine the size of the holes at the densities quoted being subject to some quantum flip flopping of the sides too. I'll wait a while before I jump in on that technology thanks.

  15. DT

    Potentially >16

    Correction: 45mn --> 10mn has 20.25x denser component packing. If layered; which the single bit data density would apparently better facilitate; 90x based on volume. Half it to take into account it's a single bit module; that's 45x the data in the same volume. The paper states 5-10nm, if the lower size can be eventually fabricated & layered; that’s potentialy 40x data density based on area, 360x based on volume (ignoring other factors).

    Crux point still stands; what's the fecking problem some people have with tech advancements? Did I miss something? Nobody is naïve enough to think this is a dead cert, but frankly some of the detractors in this case are pretty groundless. This doesn’t need terawatts of power, or cooling to 20K to work. What's with the chumps who feel the need to point out that additional R&D is required to put this into production (no sh!t, really?) , or complain that it isn't available now.

    Mine's the one with the terrabyte pen drive in the pocket.

  16. Pascal Monett Silver badge


    "This shows a lot of promise"


    "I'm going to be rich, rich I tell you !"

  17. DT


    example in point;


    "holes"? Did you read the article? It's a conventional physical switch miniturised; so how is terminology related to transistors relevant? Maybe some physics genius can enlighten us as to which quantum effect could possibly flick a sub 10nm graphene swtich, but given the incorrect use of terms; I call BS on that particular concern too.

    "'ll wait a while before I jump in on that technology thanks."

    Because in your expert opinion it's flawed by being vulnerable to static... as opposed to er, what uninsulated storage are you currently using?!!

  18. Anonymous Coward


    I'm sorry, but the first sentence caught me up- "A Texas Boffin..." Doesn't that sound oxymoronish to anyone else? Am I just suffering from the last few weeks of Bush Fatigue in extremis? I do hope I survive it.

  19. Kanhef

    @AC 01:56

    Using more charge levels reduces the potential between different states, increasing the chance of leakage and other errors. You can get some increase in storage capacity, but the benefit disappears when you need to build in redundancy and error correction to make it work reliably.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "benefit disappears"

    No it doesn't. The overhead of ECC isn't nearly enough to "compensate" for increased areal density; just look at the success of NAND flash over NOR.

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