Tiny hard drive stores one bit of data with just 12 atoms
IBM Research - Zurich
Miniaturized information storage in atomic-scale antiferromagnets show the binary representation of "s" (01010011).
Twelve atoms are all that's required to store a bit of computer code – a 1 or 0, according to a new discovery that probes the limit of classical data storage.
Computer hard drives on the market today use more than a million atoms to store a single bit and more than half a billion to store a byte, which is an eight-bit-long unit of code sufficient to write the letter A, for example.
The new technique uses just 96 atoms per byte, allowing for hard drives that store 100 times more information in the same amount of physical space, according the researchers behind the discovery.
"We can put the neighboring bits at the same atomic spacing that the atoms have inside the bit," Andreas Heinrich, a lead investigator in atomic storage at IBM Research in California, told me.
"So, we can really pack them right next to each other."
The storage technique is based on an unconventional form of magnetism called antiferromagnetism.
Normal magnets used in today's hard drives — and to hold your child's artwork on the refrigerator — are made of ferromagnetic materials. The spins of atoms in these magnets align with each other.
That's "good" because it provides an overall magnetic field that we can read as a bit — a 1 or 0, explained Heinrich.
"But it is bad because the magnetic field from one bit will interfere with the magnetic field from the neighboring bit and so you can't pack these bits too close together because they'll just talk to each other," he said.
Antiferromagnets, by contrast, cancel each other out, so there's no magnetic field emanating from them. That means they can be packed close together, allowing for the increased data storage density.
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Pretty Cool stuff. I think I'll just skip getting a Solid Sate Drive and wait for these to come out;) Hey, it worked out great for me! When I went from Windows 3.11 to Win98... And even better once I discovered Linux! Just had to mention Linux;)
More on atomic-scale computing and storage:
- Four-atom-wide wire may herald tiny computers
- Salt — table kind — can boost hard drive storage
- Hard drives are getting bigger, better
- New technology boosts hard drive capacity