Using a virus called the M13 bacteriophage to manufacture a specific component may unlock phase-change memory systems, a type of digital storage that would speed up any computer using it, according to research published last month in the journal ACS Applied Nano Materials.
The problem these viruses solve comes from the way memory is transferred within a computer. Moving data from high-speed but transient RAM to permanent storage on a hard drive can sometimes take a computer several milliseconds.
Replacing that two-part memory system with a single, catch-all type of storage called phase-change memory would reduce that delay to about ten nanoseconds.
But the existing manufacturing process for phase-change memory reaches temperatures high enough to destroy gallium antimonide, one of the base materials necessary for phase-change memory systems.