Liquid metal RAM: a technological revolution that opens the door to flexible computing
February 4, 2024

Liquid metal RAM: a technological revolution that opens the door to flexible computing

The latest achievement of scientists from Beijing, FlexRAM, is a completely new, flexible memory device based on liquid gallium (GLM – Gallium Liquid Metal) for writing and reading data. This liquid metal RAM is an achievement by which researchers have overcome the limitations of traditional methods of working memory.

The new liquid-metal FlexRAM can withstand almost any deformation, and uses reversible electrochemical oxidation to modulate conductivity, allowing low-voltage binary data to be written. This unique process is analogous to the hyperpolarization and depolarization of neurons, providing flexibility and uniqueness in writing low-voltage zeros and ones, the journal Advanced Materials reported.

FlexRAM is not only flexible in terms of electronic features. Resistance to deformation is impressive, withstanding up to 100 percent stretch, 180 degree bending and 360 degree twisting. Additionally, the GLM droplets are coated with the stretchable biopolymer Ecoflex, thus creating a stable device resistance ratio and preventing solution leakage.

IEEE Spectrum reports that, to demonstrate the memory's functionality, the research team encoded a series of letters and numbers into an array of eight FlexRAM storage units through a software-hardware setup. This array is equivalent to one byte of data information. The digital signal from the computer is converted to analog using pulse modulation to precisely control the oxidation and reduction of the liquid metal.

As Techradar further states, the researchers used a 3D printer to create an Ecoflex mold and injected GLM droplets and a PAH (polyvinyl acetate hydrogel) solution separately into the mold cavities. This process increases the resistance ratio of the device and prevents solution leakage.

This innovative memory device, although in the prototype stage, shows promising features. Liquid metal RAM retains data even up to 12 hours after power is turned off. This feature, combined with stable performance for over 3500 duty cycles, suggests that FlexRAM could be developed into various forms of memory.

At the very mention of the term “liquid metal” in the computer industry, the famous T1000 robot model from the movie Terminator 2, from the beginning of the nineties of the 20th century, may come to mind. However, the association with the movie script does not necessarily mean destruction, but it could simply be technological progress.