Dutch scientists have created a tiny hard drive that stores huge amounts of data. They achieved this by manipulating single atoms. This way, the created the smallest hard drive in the world. It is capable of storing 1 kilobyte of data (8,000 bits) in a very small space, of just 100 nanometers across.
With this technology, all the books in the world could be stored on a gadget the size of a stamp. Researchers from the Technical University of Delft have published a study in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The study proves they have created an atomic hard-drive with a step ahead of the current hard drive technologies. It can store 500 times the information existent on a usual hard drive.
Prof. Sander Otte and his team revealed that by placing chlorine atoms on a surface made of copper, you could create the perfect square grid. A hole appears if an atom is missing. With the help of a scanning tunneling microscope, experts could move atoms one by one and drag atoms toward the hole.
If there’s an atom in the grid, that translates as a one, and if there’s a hole, it translates as zero. These are the building blocks of all modern hard drives: binary codes. The novel combination of chlorine atoms and the supporting copper crystal surface allowed scientists to create a technique that can easily be automated.
Moreover, the way of manipulating holes, just like in a sliding puzzle, makes the system more reliable and easy to reproduce. Using this specific technique, scientists unveiled the largest atomic structure constructed to date.
Some of the texts digitized to fit atom-level were Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” and Richard Feynman’s lecture “There’s plenty of room at the bottom.” The texts were stored atom by atom on the copper sheet. This experiment proved that data exchange at the atomic scale is possible.
However, the technique can’t be implemented yet. This is because it needs vacuum conditions to operate and temperatures at liquid nitrogen levels (-346 degrees Fahrenheit). So it may take a while before we see this invention in our hard drives.
Scientists have been moving atoms with tunnel microscopes ever since the 90’s. But for now, these methods are slow and hard to implement.
Image Source – Wikipedia