New technology promises to store more data at less cost

A new memory technology promises to store more data at less cost than the expensive-to-build silicon chips used by popular consumer gadgets including digital cameras, cell phones and portable music players. The magical ingredient isn’t smaller transistors or an exotic material cooked up by the semiconductor industry.It’s a plastic.

RESEARCHERS AT Princeton University and Hewlett-Packard Co.’s HP Labs developed the memory, technically a hybrid that contains a plastic film, a flexible foil substrate and some silicon. The findings appear in the journal Nature on Thursday.

Unlike flash memory found in consumer devices, the new technology can be written to only once, though it can be read many times. It acts in that respect like a non-rewriteable compact disc. But the new memory, which retains data even when there’s no power, won’t require a power-hungry laser or motor to read or write, and promises more capacity.

“For music or photographs, it’s actually an advantage to have something you can’t rewrite,” said Warren Jackson, one of the paper’s co-authors and scientist at HP Labs. “Even in accounting, it would be quite useful if you have a trail of files that you can’t erase.”

The goal is to make the technology fast enough to store video. It also could become…

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