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Data storage, 1 atom = 1 bit

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Data storage, 1 atom = 1 bit

Comments for: Data storage, 1 atom = 1 bit
pulse Report This Comment
Date: July 20, 2016 03:51AM

Researchers in the Netherlands have created a microscopic storage system that encodes every bit with a single atom -- allowing them to fit a kilobyte in a space under 100 nanometers across. That translates to a storage density of about 500 terabits per square inch.

For comparison, those 4-terabyte hard drives you can buy today are about 1 terabit per square inch. That's because, unlike this new system, they use hundreds or thousands of atoms to store a single bit. "Every bit consists of two positions on a surface of copper atoms, and one chlorine atom that we can slide back and forth between these two positions," explained Sander Otte, lead scientist at Delft University of Technology, in a news release. Because chlorine on copper forms into a perfectly square grid, it's easy (relatively, anyway) to position and read them. If the chlorine atom is up top, that's a 1; if it's at the bottom, that's a 0. Put 8 chlorine atoms in a row and they form a byte.

The data the researchers chose to demonstrate this was a fragment of a Feynman lecture, "There's plenty of room at the bottom" (PDF) -- fittingly, about storing data at extremely small scales. The chlorine-copper array is only stable in a clean vacuum and at 77 kelvin -- about the temperature of liquid nitrogen. Anything past that and heat will disrupt the organization of the atoms. The research was published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
pro_junior Report This Comment
Date: July 20, 2016 07:41PM

U wot m8?
woberto Report This Comment
Date: July 20, 2016 09:09PM

Meh, atoms come and go. Maintaining data integrity would be the hardest part in the future if it only take one atom to be missing. It's pretty damn impressive though.
pulse Report This Comment
Date: July 21, 2016 09:26AM

Impossible to get any denser storage than 1 bit per atom.

Except maybe a pentaquark.

Still, if it's 500x more dense than a current HD, that means 200-400TB capacity in a single HD. Not bad.

Plenty of space for my porn collection.
woberto Report This Comment
Date: July 21, 2016 07:07PM

That reminds me, I need to do a backup...
Mrkim Report This Comment
Date: July 21, 2016 09:46PM

I'm holdin out till they figure out how to make protons "0's" and neutrons "1"s" ... subatomic storage baby tongue
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