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Store One Bit On One Atom
Store one bit of data on one single atom? Now, that's high density data storage.
(Single atom read-write)
An international team led by IBM has created the world’s smallest magnet, using a single atom of rare-earth element holmium, and stored one bit of data on it over several hours.
The achievement represents the ultimate limit of the classical approach to high-density magnetic storage media, according to a paper published March 8 in the journal Nature.
Currently, hard disk drives use about 100,000 atoms to store a single bit. The ability to read and write one bit on one atom may lead to significantly smaller and denser storage devices in the future. (The researchers are currently working in an ultrahigh vacuum at 1.2 K (a temperature near absolute zero.)
Using a scanning tunneling microscope* (STM), the researchers also showed that a device using two magnetic atoms could be written and read independently, even when they were separated by just one nanometer.
The first time I ever heard of this idea was in Robert Heinlein's 1951 novel Between Planets.
"It is theoretically possible to have a matrix in which each individual molecule has a meaning - as they do in the memory cells of your brain. If we had such subtlety, we could wrap your Encyclopedia Britannica into the head of a pin - it would be the head of that pin..."
(Read more about Heinlein's molecule matrix)
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