"FERROELECTRIC: X-rays probe failures in ferroelectric memories"
Unlike a conventional random-access memory, a ferroelectric RAM can switch its magnetic domains electrically between zero and one without having to call on standby power. Since ferroelectric memories already store data on smart cards and transform electrical pulses into sound in watch buzzers and ultrasound machines, it might seem that their properties were well-understood. Instead, as an advanced X-ray technique showed recently, the opposite is true. Conventional wisdom maintained that a single mechanism caused ferroelectric switches to get stuck after a few hundred thousand transitions between one and zero-making them unsuitable ro replace other RAM. But researchers at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), seeking ways to extend ferroelectrics' lifetimes, unveiled at least two mechanisms that cause ferroelectrics to fail.