Next Big Thing – transparent, flexible memory

Flash memory is just that, a flash in the pan, the future is reserved for memory built into screens

I thought Flash saved every one of us?

Flash memory may indeed have been the saviour of saving for the last few years, but there's a new king of the impossible in town. With flash memory about to hit its physical maximum storage capacity in just six years – and a Minority Report style future of transparent devices looking imminent – only see-through storage will do. Thanks to a Rice University discovery revealed at the American Chemical Society, that vision has been realised with clear, flexible, compact, and tough memory.

See through? Like plastic?

Sort of, except it's made of silicon oxide – which is clear. The memory material is also able to bend like paper, and withstand up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit – over double the maximum heat of most ovens. And since the chips are organised using two terminals per bit of information – as opposed to current three-point memory – they can be layered in a 3D structure allowing more data to be crammed into a smaller space. This also future-proofs it for modern 3D memory, while flash has only got six odd years left before it reaches its structural limit for storage.

So where do you buy them, if you can’t see them?

Good one. But sadly you don’t know how right you are – transparent silicon oxide memory won’t be seen for a while as it has yet to enter mass production. But with the possibility of devices layering their screens with super strong, flexible, vast memory storage the options are vast. Imagine thinner laptops and phones with flexible screens – or for a more futuristic vision, contact lenses with displays and memories all built into the clear lens.

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