Friends, file this one under “Wow”. IBM researchers just discovered a way to store data on a single atom. Data storage is undergoing dramatic evolution, recently researchers successfully stored digital data — an entire operating system, a movie, an Amazon gift card, a study and a computer virus — in strands of DNA.
The IBM researchers have developed the world’s smallest magnet using a single atom and they packed it with one bit of digital data. Currently, hard drives use about 100,000 atoms to store a single bit of information — a 1 or 0 — using traditional methods. So, this breakthrough could allow people to store 1,000 times more information in the same amount of space in the future applications.
The discovery, which was described in the journal Nature, builds on 35 years of nanotechnology history at IBM, including their Nobel prize-winning scanning tunneling microscope (STM) that was used to build the atomic hard drive. The scientists used a single atom of the rare earth element holmium and carefully placed it on a surface of magnesium oxide, which makes its north and south poles hold in a stable direction. The two stable magnetic orientations define the 1 and 0 of the bit. The researchers then used a very accurate, sharp, and small, needle to pass an electrical current through the holmium atoms that flips its north and south poles, thus replicating the process of writing binary data (1s and 0s) to a traditional magnetic hard drive.
SOURCE: The Hacker News