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Atomic Hard Drive: A dream near to come true?

LONDON: Can you imagine a hard drive stays at your fingertip and holding all the books which has ever written and the whole US Library of Congress stored at corner and occupying only 0.1mm of the chip?

Well, the answer is yes. Sander Otte, researcher in Netherlands at Delft University, developed an atomic-scale rewriteable data storage which is 500 times denser than any state of the art storage device. It can store 500 terabits (62.5 terabytes) onto just a single square-inch of chip,

The discovery made a major breakthrough in the development of nanotechnology and atomic-scale storage device.

Here is how Otte and his team made it happen. Chlorine atoms were placed on copper surface, resulting a perfect square grid. Wherever the atom is missing on the surface a hole appears, which can be manipulate into binary switching, the foundation of data storage.

“The combination of chlorine atoms and supporting copper crystal surface that we found now, combined with the fact that we manipulate ‘holes’—just as in a sliding puzzle—makes for a much more reliable, reproducible and scalable manipulation technique that can easily be automated,” explained Otte. “It is as if we have invented the atomic scale printing press.”

“While the memory outperforms existing media by far in terms of capacity, it still stays far behind in terms of read/write speed,” Otte explained.

“However, I foresee no physical boundaries that will prevent us from speeding up these processes to similar speeds that are currently seen in [hard disk drives]. It will be a technological challenge for sure, but in terms of physics it should work.”

“I cannot at this point foresee where this will lead, but I am convinced that it will be much more exciting than just data storage.”

The only issue with the system is, it cannot work in everyday environment. It only operates in a clean vacuum condition (free from any particle) at nitrogen temperature ̶ 210˚C. Otte admits, “the actual storage of data on an atomic scale is still some way off,” but “through this achievement we have certainly come a big step closer.”

IMage: TNG