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World's Smallest Hard Drive Packs in Data at Atomic Level

Image: World's Smallest Hard Drive Packs in Data at Atomic Level

Delft University of Technology. (Wikimedia Commons)

By    |   Wednesday, 20 Jul 2016 07:09 PM

The world's smallest hard drive, a prototype decades in the making, is capable of writing information at the atom level, which allows "hundreds of times more information per square inch," reported Wired magazine.

According to research published online Monday in Nature Nanotechnology, Dutch scientists developed new rewritable storage technology that would allow for information to be written from atom to atom.

Sander Otte, of Delft University of Technology, and other scientists there created the 500TB/inch2 disk, which can hold three times more data than the current flash drive and hard disk memories available, noted Wired.

"In theory, this storage density would allow all books ever created to be written on a single post stamp," Otte said. "Or, by another measure, the entire contents of the U.S. Library of Congress could be stored in a 0.1 (millimeter)-wide cube."

The Wall Street Journal said scientists were able to create the feat by manipulating the interaction between individual atoms, which allowed them to create technology where they are able to get "hundreds of times more information per square inch" than the top available data storage systems.

The researchers said the "atomic-scale memory" can hold one kilobyte information, which is about a paragraph of text, wrote the Journal.

"I would call it a breakthrough," Franz Himpsel, a physics professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, told the Journal.

Otte said in a Delft University of Technology statement that while the new technology promises stability and scalability, major hurdles exist before it can ever be used in data centers around the world.

"In its current form the memory can operate only in very clean vacuum conditions and at liquid nitrogen temperature (77 Kelvin or -321.07 Fahrenheit), so 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."

Victor Zhirnov, chief scientist at the North Carolina-based research consortium Semiconductor Research Corp., told Journal that the memory of the new technology would have to persist for years and work in warmer temperatures to be competitive to current hard drives.

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The world's smallest hard drive, a prototype decades in the making, is capable of writing information at the atom level, which allows "hundreds of times more information per square inch."
worlds, smallest, hard, drive, atom
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2016-09-20
Wednesday, 20 Jul 2016 07:09 PM
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