Liquid crystal for high density data storage

Liquid crystal for high density data storage

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Researchers in Japan have developed a metal free liquid crystal that can improve data storage in devices.

The researchers from Chiba University have developed a liquid crystal system with long-term information storage ability and high tolerance towards external thermal and electric fields. This can provide a recording density 10,000 times larger than Blu-ray discs.

Current memory storage materials contain toxic and rare metals, which cause significant environmental impact. Metal-free systems for data-storage using liquid crystals struggle with susceptibility to external stimuli.

Axially polar-ferroelectric columnar liquid crystals (AP-FCLCs) has emerged as a candidate for future high-density memory storage materials. This is a liquid crystal with a structure of parallel columns generated by molecular self-assembly, which have polarization along the column axis. The columns switch their polar directions upon the application of an external electric field.

If AP-FCLCs can maintain their polarization even after the electric field is removed, this property, along with their flexibility, metal-free composition, power-saving ability, and low environmental impact, makes AP-FCLCs ideal for ultra-high-density memory devices. Unfortunately, due to the fluid nature of liquid crystals, the polarity induced by an external electric field can be compromised by external stimuli.

The team was led by Professor Keiki Kishikawa of the Graduate School of Engineering and includes Doctoral Course student Hikaru Takahashi of the Graduate School of Science and Engineering and Associate Professor Michinari Kohri of the Graduate School of Engineering.

They developed materials that can undergo a smooth transition from AP-FCLC phase to a crystal (Cr) phase without affecting the induced polar structure.

“The goal was to realize a compound with three states: a writable and rewritable state, an erasure state, and a save state. Emphasis was placed on minimizing the change in molecular packing structures during the FCLC−Cr phase transition process,” said Prof. Kishikawa.

The FCLC system exhibited preservation of polarization in the Cr phase, with thermally stable polarization information storage and resistance to the external electrical field at room temperature. This can be used to develop stable memory materials.

“AP-FCLCs have the potential to achieve more than 10,000 times larger recording density than Blu-ray Discs, but they have not been put into practical use due to the instability issue. This work will help improve their reliability, paving the way for light-weight flexible electronic devices and incinerable confidential information-recording devices,” concludes Prof. Kishikawa.

Axially Polar-Ferroelectric Columnar Liquid Crystalline System That Maintains Polarization upon Switching to the Crystalline Phase: Implications for Maintaining Long-Term Polarization Information

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