NEW ORLEANS — The tiniest digital units don’t have anything on a brand new data-storage instrument. Every bit is encoded the use of the magnetic box of a unmarried atom — making for extraordinarily compact records garage, even if researchers have saved simplest two bits of information to this point.
“If you’ll be able to make your bit smaller, you’ll be able to retailer additional info,” physicist Fabian Natterer of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland mentioned March 16 at a gathering of the American Bodily Society. Natterer and co-workers additionally reported the end result within the March nine Nature.
Natterer and co-workers created the minuscule magnetic bits the use of atoms of holmium deposited on a floor of magnesium oxide. The route of each and every atom’s magnetic box served because the 1 or zero of just a little, relying on whether or not its north pole was once pointing up or down.
The use of a scanning tunneling microscope, the scientists may turn an atom’s magnetic orientation to modify just a little from zero to at least one. To learn out the knowledge, the researchers measured the present operating during the atom, which relies on the magnetic box’s orientation. To be sure that the trade in present noticed after flipping just a little was once because of a reorientation of the atom’s magnetic box, the crew added bystander iron atoms to the combination and measured how the holmium atoms’ magnetic fields affected the iron atoms.
The paintings may result in new onerous drives that retailer records at a lot larger densities than recently imaginable. These days’s applied sciences require 10,000 atoms or extra to retailer a unmarried bit of knowledge.
Natterer additionally hopes to make use of those mini magnets to build fabrics with fine-tuned magnetic homes, development ingredients a unmarried atom at a time. “You’ll play with them. It’s like Lego,” he says.