CNET News Video
26 million songs in your pocket (someday)A breakthrough by physicists makes it possible to store data on a single atom. However, the commercial applications may be a while away.
Researches have figured a way to store data on a single atom. How much storage space is enough? Infinite storage of course. In a study published in Journal nature, a team of physicists, including some from IBM Research, Stored data on the single atom of the element holmium placed on magnesium oxide at a temperature below 5 kelvins or around minus 268 degrees Celsius. A special microscope uses electrical currents to flip the atom's orientation one way or the other, so that's either a 1 or 0 or a bit. Then, that atom is read by measuring the atom's electromagnetic properties. I know what you're thinking. Why didn't this work in magnetic hard drives before? Well, if you keep cutting a magnet in half, its polarity becomes more and more unstable. That means data storage would be unreliable at best. The stability of the holmium survived several hours. Let's set the table to understand what's been done here. Right now, a hard drive takes about 100,000 atoms o store one bit of data. So in theory, you could fit 46 million songs on a drive the size of a penny. That sounds amazing but don't expect your next phone to have this breakthrough just yet. IBM researcher Chris Luxe says, this work is not product development. And that this research is to understand what happens as we miniaturize devices down toward the ultimate limit of the individual atom. Yeah, yeah, that's great, but Luxe also said, it could be decades away before we see this technology commercialized. So there's something to look forward to. For more information, check out cnet.com. I'm [UNKNOWN] I'll see you online