IBM says it has managed to store data on a single atom. The research, which was conducted at IBM’s Almaden lab in Silicon Valley, was published in scientific journal Nature on Wednesday. The finding could potentially change the way we store data in the future.
To put things in perspective, a hard drive takes about 100,000 atoms to store a single bit of data – a bit is comprised of 1 or 0. In comparison, IBM claims that it can reduce it to a single atom to store one bit of data. This theoretically means that you could cram an entire catalogue of iTunes’ 35 million songs into a storage medium as big as a credit card. Or you could carry your entire personal data in a smartwatch.
“Magnetic bits lie at the heart of hard-disk drives, tape, and next-generation magnetic memory,” Christopher Lutz, nanoscience researcher at IBM’s Almaden lab, said in a release. “We conducted this research to understand what happens when you shrink technology down to the most fundamental extreme – the atomic scale.”
The finding is but a stepping stone in discovering the possibilities of atomic-computing. It remains to be seen if this method is feasible and affordable to think large scale. It will also need to be seen how computer chip manufacturers plan to scale the technology.
In today’s day and age, there’s never enough storage to keep us satisfied. IBM’s research imagines a future where storage issues do not exist and where you’ll never have to feel the need to delete the old to make room for the new.