Scientists at Delft University’s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience claim they have created a hard drive so small that humanity can store all the books ever printed on a portion the size of a post stamp.
Researchers say that they have successfully managed to store 8,000 bits or 1 kilobyte onto chlorine atoms on a copper surface. The team explained that every bit is associated with two position of a chlorine atom on the surface just like the 1-0 binary system computers use to store data nowadays.
The new data storage technique is 500 times more powerful than the best data-storage technology on the market. In other words, researchers say the new technology has the potential of storing 500 terabits of data on a single square inch or the entire Library of Congress’ contents on a 0.1-mm wide surface.
The newly found method could prove handy in our times as world’s population generates over 1 billion gigabytes of data every single day.
The latest feat stems from physicist Richard Feynman’s life-long dream of down-scaling the world as low as possible. Feyman said in a 1959 lecture that humanity would one day be able to store a piece of info on a single atom if it found the means to arrange atoms at will.
To honor the scientist’s vision, researchers stored part of his famous lecture on a 100-nanometer-wide area.
The team explained that it was able to manipulate chlorine atoms’ positions through a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). The device’s super-sharp needle can move atoms between on-off positions corresponding to a single bit of data.
Scientists said that when the atom is on top, there is a gap below it which translates into an one. If the gap is on top then the information equals zero. The atoms are in stable positions across the copper surface because they are surrounded by other atoms. Engineers noticed that this method of positioning is much more stable than the loose-atom method.
Next, the team organized information into 64 bit-large blocks that contain an individual marker, making the blocks very similar to the QR codes. Study authors said that each block works very much like a microscopic QR code. Square bar codes or QR codes are used int he real-word to store helpful information on a particular product or service. The information can be accessed by scanning the code with a smartphone.
A study on the new findings was published July 18 in Nature Nanotechnology.
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