Strategic Elements’ subsidiary wins government funding for Nanocube printable memory device project

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By Imelda Cotton - 
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A $1.06 million collaborative project between the University of NSW, the CSIRO and a subsidiary of pooled development fund Strategic Elements (ASX: SOR) aimed at developing next generation, low-cost printable memory devices has been awarded a $320,000 funding package under the Australian Research Council Linkage program.

The project seeks to utilise Nanocube memory ink technology owned by Strategic’s subsidiary Australian Advanced Materials to produce metal oxide-based nanomaterials for printable, flexible and cost-effective memory devices.

Project team members – led by UNSW associate professor and Nanocube co-inventor Dewei Chu – will work on the development of new electronic materials for a range of uses in flexible electronics and energy-efficient data storage devices.

The team will have access to the UNSW Analytical Centre, the Australian National Fabrication Facility, and (via proposals to CSIRO) the Australian Synchrotron and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

In addition to the ARCL funding, Australian Advanced Materials has committed $160,000 in cash and $150,000 in-kind support and services, CSIRO will contribute approximately $25,000 in-kind support and services and the UNSW will provide $414,000 in-kind support and services.

New electronics

Strategic managing director Charles Murphy said the Nanocube project has potential to enable new electronics product categories through printability, transparency and flexibility.

“To have successfully pulled together a collaborative project [worth more than] $1 million is a great win for our company in the current environment,” he said.

“UNSW, in particular, has been a strong partner for us and our win-win relationship is a great example of industry and research working together to further the commercialisation of Australian technology.”

All intellectual property and commercialisation rights to Nanocube will remain with Australian Advanced Materials.

High-performance technology

Nanocube memory ink is a high-performance liquid transparent ink containing billions of tiny nanometer-scale cube-shaped particles which are the “building blocks” for memory cells.

The data storage technology can be printed onto transparent substrates such as glass and plastics where the ink remains entirely see-through, introducing electronic memory to places where current silicon chip technology cannot go.

Nanocube targets the global multi-billion dollar printed electronics market and could enable massive amounts of data to be stored and retrieved in printed electronics circuits for computer and data storage requirements.

It comes at a time when an increase in digital communications from 5G, Big Data and Internet of Things has generated a need for new memory materials and devices with low power consumption, non-volatile storage capabilities and mechanical flexibility.

Mr Murphy said the ability to incorporate printable memory into existing products for the first time across industries such as military, infrastructure and retail has the potential to disrupt a sector already forecast to reach US$78 billion by 2023.