Single-atom magnets store bits of data

Single-atom magnets store bits of data

NEW ORLEANS — ­The tiniest electronic gadgets have nothing on a new data-storage device. Each bit is encoded using the magnetic field of a single atom — making for extremely compact data storage, although researchers have stored only two bits of data so far.

“If you can make your bit smaller, you can store more information,” physicist Fabian Natterer of the ?cole Polytechnique F?d?rale de Lausanne in Switzerland said March 16 at a meeting of the American Physical Society. Natterer and colleagues also reported the result in the March 9 Nature.

Natterer and colleagues created the minuscule magnetic bits using atoms of holmium deposited on a surface of magnesium oxide. The direction of each atom’s magnetic field served as the 1 or 0 of a bit, depending on whether its north pole was pointing up or down.

Using a scanning tunneling microscope, the scientists could flip an atom’s magnetic orientation to switch a bit from 0 to 1. To read out the data, the researchers measured the current running through the atom, which depends on the magnetic field’s orientation. To ensure that the change in current observed after flipping a bit was due to a reorientation of the atom’s magnetic field, the team added bystander iron atoms to the mix and measured how the holmium atoms’ magnetic fields affected the iron atoms.

The work could lead to new hard drives that store data at much greater densities than currently possible. Today’s technologies require 10,000 atoms or more to store a single bit of information.

Natterer also hopes to use these mini magnets to construct materials with fine-tuned magnetic properties, building substances a single atom at a time. “You can play with them. It’s like Lego,” he says.



Add Comment

all comments

  Other news

more
Grenfell fire: Jeremy Corbyn urges PM to widen probe

Grenfell fire: Jeremy Corbyn urges PM to widen probe..

17-Aug, 12:31

Jeremy Corbyn has called on Theresa May not to "exclude broader social...

Desperate straits

Desperate straits..

17-Aug, 09:30

Fewer migrants - those who can afford to - pay smugglers up to ˆ4,000 to...

Love Island’s Olivia Attwood brands herself a 'drunken idiot' following cosy pictures with ex-boyfriend Bradley Dack – before gushing over 'love' Chris Hughes

Love Island’s Olivia Attwood brands herself a 'drunken idiot' following cosy pictures with..

18-Aug, 01:20

The Love Island runners-up were forced to deny they’d split after Olivia...

Terrorist threat pushes British cities well down global livability rankings

Terrorist threat pushes British cities well down global livability rankings..

17-Aug, 13:10

The rising threat of terrorism has pushed down a number of British cities...

Alaska volcano erupts again, sends ash cloud over Aleutians

Alaska volcano erupts again, sends ash cloud over Aleutians..

08-Mar, 12:02

An Alaska volcano that's been active since mid-December has erupted again...

Pro-Trump PAC pulls ad it launched against GOP senator who opposed health bill

Pro-Trump PAC pulls ad it launched against GOP senator who opposed health bill..

27-Jun, 23:01

A political action committee for President Trump launched an attack...

Andrew Garfield says he's gay 'without the physical act'

Andrew Garfield says he's gay 'without the physical act'..

06-Jul, 09:56

Andrew Garfield is getting criticized for saying he's gay, but without...

TV Novel – Sea of the Woman Episode 9

TV Novel – Sea of the Woman Episode 9..

08-Mar, 22:03

The following TV Novel – Sea of the Woman Episode 9 English Sub has been...