Atomic storage of data could one day replace data warehouses.
It is quite a breakthrough, being able to write and re-write data into atomic storage, but the ability to write the world’s books and all your music and photos may be quite a few years away.
Still, according to an article on wsj.com, scientists are reporting they have developed a device for doing what they have been working on for over ten years, and one day may lead to cheaper and much more efficient data storage.
Called, atomic-scale memory, the new technology can store hundreds of times more data per square inch than any currently available technology, and could eventually replace large data warehouses, such as those owned by tech companies that house your photos and videos today.
But right now, the researchers say they were able to only inscribe about one kilobyte, or one paragraph of text, which even the experts say may not sound very impressive, but signals a breakthrough in the process.
Lead author on the study, Sander Otte, an experimental physicist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, said the new device allows for rewriting on it as often as we like. Previous attempts to use the technology could only be written once.
The prototype uses a flat copper bed with around 60,000 chlorine atoms randomly scattered, leaving about 8,000 empty spaces in between them. A copper-coated tip of a high-tech microscope is guided by a mapping algorithm to place each chlorine atom in a predetermined location, resulting in a precise arrangement.
With the information stored in the patterns of the holes between the atoms, the researchers developed a “language” that recognizes the patterns as ones and zeros, making them binary code.
Dr. Otte said the initial writing took about a week to complete, but the re-writing process is down to only a few hours, and that is 10 times faster than previous attempts at the technology.
Obviously, the newly developed technology is not ready for everyday usage, but the new discoveries are creating excitement among the community of researchers. The team says they plan to experiment with other mineral besides chlorine to improve the stability of the device.
Findings from the research were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.