When it comes to digital storage, it has always been a race for the smaller ones. Now, researchers at IBM have unveiled the smallest data storage device taking nanotechnology to a totally different level.
The findings, reported in the journal Science, could shrink the size of memory chips and data storage devices that will have capacities ranging over 100 TBs apart from consuming less power.
The new development will reduce the number of atoms used to store a bit of data on a disk drive from one million to just 12 magnetic atoms.
The mass production of the new technology may not be possible for several years though. According to reports, the 12 atom device currently operates at 1 degree kelvin, about - 458 degrees Fahrenheit and using it in room temperature would expand its size up to 150 atoms.
According to The New York Times, the group at IBM's Almaden Research Center, led by Andreas Heinrich, created the smallest possible unit of magnetic storage by arranging two rows of six iron atoms on a surface of copper nitrite atoms. The cluster of atoms is described as anti-ferromagnetic - a rare quality in which each atom in the array has an opposed magnetic orientation.
Under the laboratory's founder, Don Eigler, IBM has explored the science of nanomaterials far smaller than the silicon chips used in today's semiconductors. Eigler recently retired from the company but is a co-author of the Science paper, the report added.
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