IBM stores data on an atom
Some days we might take our whole library or movie collection in our mobile phone, or even in a ring? This can be possible with the latest developments and experiments of the Blue giant.
IBM has demonstrated how to perform certain computer functions on single atoms and molecules, a discovery that could someday lead to processors the size of a speck of dust, the company said Thursday.
Researchers at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose developed a technique for measuring magnetic anisotropy, a property of the magnetic field that gives it the ability to maintain a particular direction. Being able to measure magnetic anisotropy at the atomic level is a crucial step toward the magnet representing the ones or the zeros used to store data in binary computer language.
In a second report, researchers at IBM's lab in Zurich said they had used an individual molecule as an electric switch that could potentially replace the transistors used in modern chips. The company published both research reports in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
The new technologies are at least 10 years from being used for components in commercial products, but the discoveries will allow scientists to take a large step forward in their quest to replace silicon, said IBM spokesman Matthew McMahon.
"One of the most basic properties that every atom has is that it behaves like a little magnet," explained Hirjibehedin in a Reuters interview. "If you can keep that magnetic orientation stable over time, then you can use that to store information. That is how your hard drive works,"
Heinrich further outlines that although current research work has allowed the team to "look at an iron atom on a copper surface and to move that magnetic orientation around," the goal is now to fully understand how the fundamental property functions when dealing with a single atom and to find a way to have that atom remain stable enough to enable the possibility of long-term data storage.
Though only in the very early stages of development, Hirjibehedin and Heinrich hope that "in the very long run" they’ll be able to eventually craft nanotechnology data storage.