How do computers and solid state drives store data when there is no power? Is there some physical change that happens that stores data?

Solid State Drives use nonmagnetic media to store data. Technically speaking it is a small circuit board with a Semiconductor chip or multiple chips on it. The chip is made of a grid of cells that can hold a charge up to 10 years. The charge determines if the cell is on or off, zeros or ones, and the sequence of the cells is the binary representation of the data saved. Depending on how many chips there is in the SSD and the density of the grid on the chips, that will determine the storage capacity of the SSD Drive.

The Cells on the SSD drive are made of NAND gates a miniature electronic component laid in a grid of columns and Rows. If the NAND gate conducts electricity it has the value of One, it it does not, it has the value of Zero. The process of physically making the circuit I think is beyond what can be described in a small post like this. I can explain to you what the component does, but I cant explain to you the physics or the material science behind why or how the NAND gate changes its state. I can tell you this much and in a simple format, the whole circuit is printed on a negative like what was used in non digital Cameras. Then they use light to project it (Also manipulating the image to shrink it, or miniaturize it) onto a silicon wafer were the the circuit is itched on the surface were the light hits. Silicon is a chemical element found in sand and it does not conduct electricity in it’s normal state. But silicon is also a semiconductor, which means it neither conductor carrying electricity like metal. nor is it an insulator that stops electricity like plastic. So to finalize the the printed circuit we have to treat the exposed / itched silicon surface with impurities, a process called doping to make it change the silicon conducting behavior.

Depending on the material or impurities we use in the doping process the silicon atom either becomes an n-type (negative type) silicon atom gaining some extra electrons facilitating the flow of electrons or electricity out of the atom. Doping silicon with the chemical elements like arsenic, phosphorus, or antimony will produce the N-type Silicon.

On the other hand P-type silicon is were we dope the silicon with impurities such as boron, gallium, and aluminum knocking of an electron facilitating the flow of electrons or electricity from nearby material.

This is the simplified version of the answer and might not answer all your questions specifically. All I can tell you is that the combined printed circuit of miniature components on the silicon wafer creates and defines the characteristics and the logic of the NAND gates which in turn is the heart of the SSD Drive. Beyond this you will have to ask an electronics engineer for the circuit design details and explanations, or an expert in material science specializing electronics to explain the behavior of the silicon in printed circuit in SSD drives.

Author: Sam

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