Revolutionary liquid metal RAM memory paves way for shapeless computing

Tsinghua University researchers in China create FlexRAM, an innovative liquid-based RAM that's flexible and damage-resistant, perfect for wearables, robots and medical implants

Researchers from Tsinghua University in China have published a study detailing the development of an innovative RAM (Random Access Memory) storage device made from liquid materials.
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This memory, dubbed FlexRAM, is composed of liquid and flexible materials, making it resistant to damage and suitable for a wide range of applications, including wearable devices, robots and medical implants.
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זיכרון נוזלי FlexRAM
זיכרון נוזלי FlexRAM
FlexRAM liquid metal memory
(Photo: Tsinghua University)
Traditional RAM is made from small chips containing transistors and capacitors, with transistors used for data storage and capacitors for charge storage. While highly efficient, this memory is relatively fragile and unsuitable for use in flexible or foldable devices.
FlexRAM, however, uses liquid materials containing conductive particles that can move freely, allowing the memory to bend and flex without getting damaged. The device uses a liquid metal based on gallium to read and write memory.
Another advantage of FlexRAM is its lower energy consumption compared to conventional memory. This feature is particularly beneficial for wearable devices and medical implants, as they are limited in the amount of electricity they can use.
The research team believes that FlexRAM could revolutionize the field of flexible electronics. This technology could enable the development of newer and more advanced devices, such as smart clothing, soft robots and improved medical implants.
The researchers drew inspiration from biological processes, specifically human memory, essentially mimicking the way memory functions in our brain, which uses hyperpolarization and depolarization of neurons to store information.
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(Photo: Shutterstock)
To demonstrate their development, the researchers integrated the liquid memory into a rigid computer and successfully encoded a series of letters and numbers in binary (1 or 0, the basis of computer operations) into eight liquid-based storage units, effectively encoding 1 byte of data. The signal sent from the computer was converted from digital to analog.
According to Prof. Jing Liu from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tsinghua University, while currently an early prototype of volatile memory (meaning it does not retain information without electrical power), the principle could enable the manufacturing and development of memory devices from various flexible materials.
The researchers also found that the device could store data for up to 12 hours without being connected to an electrical power source. Furthermore, they successfully operated it for approximately 3,500 continuous cycles to prove its reliability.
Beyond wearable devices, this memory technology opens doors to the development of flexible electronic devices, ranging from rubber-based computers to robots with flexible bodies or limbs that could potentially replace human organs. However, the most ambitious goal, envisioned by researchers a decade ago, is the development of an artificial brain.
While commercial application is still far off, the achievements of the Chinese researchers mark a significant leap forward in the field, bringing us closer to a future of human-like robots.
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