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World record: researchers from Delft in the Netherlands succeeded to build a data store, the smallest unit of information is on a single atom. This super store is a storage density that about 500 times is higher than the best today’s drives.

This data store has only room for one kilobyte and still has the potential to revolutionize the digital world: scientists at the Technical University of Delft has succeeded now to use chlorine atoms as the smallest unit of information. 78 terabit can be with their store located on one square centimeter. “This data density would suit theoretically all the books ever written on a single stamp”, Sander portrays Otte, main author of yesterday in the journal nature nanotechnology published study.

Tribute to Richard Feynmann

The physicist and visionary Richard Feynmann gave a legendary talk titled on 29 December 1959 “there’s plenty of room at the bottom”, what you receive means there are “plenty of room down”. Many of the ideas presented in this talk became the basis of nano-technological developments, even the idea of storing data at an atomic level. Otte and his team wrote a part of this speech only 100 nanometers wide field Feynmann Nobel honor now.

For this they beutzten a scanning tunneling microscope. Such a microscope has a single atom as a probe. If about a micro amp power flows through the probe, then a chlorine atom can thus move when a gap is also free.

Gap and chlorine atom form a bit

The researchers are working with these gaps. You use the property of chlorine atoms on a flat copper surface independently to a two-dimensional grid to reorder itself. To the gaps, vacancies also called, to produce, gave scientists of less chlorine atoms on the copper field, so that the box is not completely covered.

The smallest unit of information, the bit, then consists of a vacancy and a chlorine atom. Looking from above on the surface, so does this mean “Vacancy above, Atom below” a zero and “atom above, vacancy below” one.

All books on the world in size of the coin
Nobel Laureate Feynmann honor wrote the researchers of the TU Delft a part of his speech “there’s plenty of room at the bottom” only 96 nm wide field. Photo: TU Delft

“You can compare it with a sliding puzzle” , writing process is already automated

The scanning tunneling microscope controlled pushes the atoms so long from gap to gap until a bit. To keep the grid stable, each of these bits of chlorine atoms is limited. “You can compare it with a sliding puzzle,” says study leader Otte. According to long, also the processing is information. Writing a 64-bit block reading up-to two¬†minutes.

Severe frost of minus 196 degrees Celsius

In addition, severe frost: because the technique works only at a temperature of minus 196 degrees Celsius. “Everyday storing data at an atomic level is still far away,” Otte is white. “But by this success, we are closer a big step you anyway.”