A non-volatile, random-access memory technology that is designed to initially replace flash memory, and eventually DRAM memory. Also called "solid electrolyte" (SE) memory and "nano-ionic" memory, the programmable metallization cell (PMC) was invented by Dr. Michael Kozicki at Arizona State University. It is licensed to manufacturers by Axon Technologies Corporation (www.axontc.com), which was founded by Victor Lyn and Dr. Kozicki in 1996. Commercial products are expected from licensees in the 2010 time frame.|
Programmable metallization cells work by creating a conductive bridge across a solid electrolyte channel that changes the resistance in the cell. Using a process akin to electroplating silverware, but at the nanoscale level, a tiny silver or copper wire is formed between two electrodes. The wire retains its structure without power until it is broken apart electrochemically. Reading is accomplished by applying a voltage to the cell at one end and sensing the current or lack thereof at the other end. See future memory chips.
The PMC cell is an ion-conducting glass channel doped with silver ions that is sandwiched between a silver anode and an inert cathode (the +'s are silver ions, or alternatively, copper ions). When an electric field is applied between the electrodes, ions are released from the silver anode and make their way to the cathode where they combine with electrons to form a tiny silver wire that acts as a conductive bridge between the two sides. When the field is reversed, the wire comes apart. (Image courtesy of Axon Technologies Corporation, www.axontc.com)