The Daily Northwestern reported that Northwestern University received $2.4 million in government funding to develop flash-memory devices with enhanced capacity for U.S. military and intelligence use.

Allocated to NU’s Center for Integrated Nanosystems and International Institute for Nanotechnology, the money represents “substantial and welcome funding” for the field of nanoelectronics, says Fraser Stoddart, CINS director and NU Board of Trustees professor of chemistry.

The funding is part of $45.4 million for Illinois-based projects approved by Congress on Dec. 19 in a 2010 defense spending bill, according to the a news release on Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-Il) web site.

Developing memory chips will involve building and mounting mechanical switches into infinitely stretching three-dimensional scaffolds on the molecular level, he said.

“Over 10 years ago, we developed two-dimensional switches, and this piece of research will put what we did with two into three (dimensions),” Stoddart continues. “If we managed to do this, it would create very dense flash memory.”

Although funded by the Defense Department, the technology will not be limited to surveillance and battlefield operations but could be used to increase the capacity of any flash memory device, he said.