An international team of scientists, including University of Nebraska-Lincoln physicist Evgeny Tsymbal, has discovered a new class of materials that could prove to be very useful in developing new methods of creating computer memory. The research team explored layered heterostructures at the atomic scale, in which different materials were deposited in layers a few atoms thick. They discovered that the new class of materials boasts a very attractive property -- ferroelectricity, which may be used to create new types of data storage devices. A ferroelectric material exhibits spontaneous electric polarization, characterized by a positive electric charge on one side of the material and negative on the opposite side. The polarization can be reversed by applying an electric field (from a battery, for example). These two possible polarization orientations make these materials attractive for developing computer memory because each orientation could correspond to 0 or 1.
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