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Integrated all-photonic non-volatile multi-level memory

Implementing on-chip non-volatile photonic memories has been a long-term, yet elusive goal. Photonic data storage would dramatically improve performance in existing computing architectures1 by reducing the latencies associated with electrical memories2 and potentially eliminating optoelectronic conversions3. Furthermore, multi-level photonic memories with random access would allow for leveraging even greater computational capability4, 5, 6. However, photonic memories3, 7, 8, 9, 10 have thus far been volatile. Here, we demonstrate a robust, non-volatile, all-photonic memory based on phase-change materials. By using optical near-field effects, we realize bit storage of up to eight levels in a single device that readily switches between intermediate states. Our on-chip memory cells feature single-shot readout and switching energies as low as 13.4 pJ at speeds approaching 1 GHz. We show that individual memory elements can be addressed using a wavelength multiplexing scheme. Our multi-level, multi-bit devices provide a pathway towards eliminating the von Neumann bottleneck and portend a new paradigm in all-photonic memory and non-conventional computing.”

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