from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the University of Illinois have emerged from their smoke filled labs with a new low-power memory which uses much less power and is faster. It will mean that consumer devices like smartphones and laptops will have a much longer battery life and probably lead to peace in our lunchtime.
For a while boffins have been playing around with phase-change materials (PCM) as an alternative to the kind of memory that stores bits as a charge. The good side of PCM is that each bit is stored in the resistance of the material itself and can be reversibly switched with short voltage pulses.
This means that you get low voltage operation, fast access times and high endurance. However the problem was that you needed a high programming current to couple Joule heat to finite bit volume, which is a bit of a downer.
Professor Eric Pop managed to lower the power per bit to a fraction of that used for existing PCM by using carbon nanotubes. The device is initially in the off state until a voltage is applied to the nanotube that switches the PCM bit to an on state.