Products based on the programmable Metallization Cell (PMC) technology developed by ECEE professor Michael Kozicki entered the commercial market this year. Adesto, a technology company founded in 2007 with a focus in PMC or CBRAM technology, licensed the technology with a goal of developing PMC into a platform that spans from high performing embedded memory technology to lowest-cost solid-state storage. Adesto began releasing memory products based on Kozicki’s technology in early 2012.
There is a real product out there as of the start of this year.—Michael Kozicki
“There is real product out there as of the start of this year,” says Kozicki.
Kozicki, who is director of the Center for Applied Nanoionics, also received another thee patents on the PMC technology this year. In total, Kozicki holds 40 U.S. patents along with 30 international patents for developments across a variety of applications.
The PMC utilizes the motion of ions and electrochemical reaction at the nanoscale. As Kozicki explains, “What this means in real terms is that we can create large changes in a material property, such as its electrical resistance, by applying very small voltages and currents.” This allows for a vast improvement in memory application compared to the current solid-state memory.
“We can store data using a tiny fraction of the energy required for current technologies,” says Kozicki, “The devices are also a lot smaller than existing memory cells so we can get a much higher data storage density for reduced cost.”
Kozicki began working in PMC technology in 1995 when investigation in the materials used for PMC had been explored, but the memory application had yet to be researched.
He co-founded an ASU spin-out company, Axon Technologies, in 1996 to handle the financing, development, intellectual property protection and commercialization for PMC. Over the years, Axon has sponsored nearly 1.5 million dollars in research at ASU.
“In return for strong rights to the technology,” says Kozicki, “The company has sponsored the research, paid for all patent and legal work, and paid licensing fees and royalties to ASU.” Axon Technologies effectively acts as the liaison between ASU and the semiconductor industry for PMC.
Since Kozicki’s start in 1995 with PMC, a strong trend has developed. There are now symposia and conferences on PMC technology. “The industry is taking the technology very seriously and say that it is a leading contender to replace all solid-state memory by the end of this decade,” explains Kozicki.
To keep at the front-line of this trend, two other professors in ECEE are performing research with this same technology. Associate professor, Hugh Barnaby is investigating the use of PMC technology in harsh environments such as radiation and outer space. Associate professor Junseok Chae is working in the application of PMC in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and microfluidics.