Saturday 17 September 2016

Smallest Hard Disk to Date Writes Information Atom by Atom

Hard Disk

Accomplished In Reduction to Final Limit

Present society tends to create over a billion gigabytes of new data daily and to store them, it has been progressively important for every individual to occupy the minimum space as possible. A group of scientist at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University accomplished in bringing about this reduction to the final limit by building a memory of 1 kilobyte wherein each of the bit is said to be represented by the position of a single chlorine atom. Sander Otte, lead-scientist had commented that in theory, this storage density would enable all books created by humans to be written on an individual post stamp.

 They had reached a storage density of 500 Terabits per square inch, which was 500 times superior to the best commercial hard disk available presently. Reports on this memory in Nature Nanotechnology had been done by his team on July 18. Physicist Richard Feynman had challenged his colleagues to engineer the world at the smallest possible scale.

 In his well-known lecture – There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, he had speculated that if they had a platform enabling them to arrange single atoms in a precise orderly pattern, there would be a possibility of storing a piece of information for each atom.

Scanning Tunnelling Microscope

To respect the visionary Feynman, Otte together with his team had coded a section of Feynman’s lecture on an area of 100 nanometers wide. A scanning tunnelling microscope – STM had been utilised by the team where a sharp needle tends to search the surface of the atoms one after the other. With the aid of these probes, scientist not only can see the atoms but can also utilise them in pushing the atoms around.

Otte had explained that one could compare it to a sliding puzzle. Every piece comprises of two positions on a surface of copper atoms and one chlorine atom which tends to slide back and forth between these two positions. If the chlorine atom tends to be in the top position, there will be a hole below it which is called a 1. If the hole is said to be in the top position and the chlorine atom is on the bottom, the bit is then considered as 0.

New Approach Offers Tremendous Prospects

Since the chlorine atoms are surrounded by other chlorine atoms, apart from being near the holes, they seem to keep each other in place. This is the reason why this system with holes is said to be much more stable than the systems with movable atoms and are more suitable for data storage. The new approach tends to offer tremendous prospects with regards to stability and scalability.

Yet this kind of memory need not be anticipated in data centres soon. Otte had stated that in its present condition the memory tends to operate only in clean vacuum situations and at liquid nitrogen temperature in order that the actual storage of data on an atomic scale tends to be some way off. However through this accomplishment we seem to have advanced a big step nearer.

The research had been made conceivable with the support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NOW/FOM. The scientists of the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory – INL in Portugal had done calculations on the performance of the chlorine atoms.

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