The challenge for adoption of any new type of memory, points out Eleftheriou, is that flash itself isn't standing still. "In 2010, it's going to be $1 per gigabyte ... so hopefully the cost per gigabyte [of probe-based arrays] is going to be low."
Now, he says, the areas of interest for probe-based technology at IBM have moved onto topics including archival storage and maskless lithography, a technique that separates individual molecules and places them precisely onto a surface.
"The focus of our research is [to] explore ways to enhance the speed in probe sensing and the way we modify the surface -- how fast we can do those things... There are many things that come together, from positioning control, to materials to micro-machining, micro-fabricating, so it's extremely fascinating altogether."