Data storage is a necessity for almost everyone on the planet. We use all sorts of devices for this purpose, ranging from MicroSD cards all the way to server farms.
As expected, the more data you need to store, the bigger the size of your storage will be. While this doesn’t pose a problem for a regular person, it however does raise the storage costs for major firms and government organizations.
To take care of this problem, a lot of researchers have been working towards creating smaller, more efficient storage solutions that would help reduce the size requirements of storage while still maintaining data fidelity.
Towards this end, scientists in the Netherlands have found a way to create what’s being called the World’s Smallest Hard Disk. While such titles may seem like exaggerations, this time however it’s completely true, as the disk in infact the size of atoms.
What we are talking about is a storage made up of Chlorine Atoms, which the scientists used to store information at the rate of one kilobyte of data per atom.
The atoms in question are barely 96 nanometres (nm) wide and 126 nm tall, which, if you think of it, gives the disk a storage density that’s 500 tomes better than the best hard drives today.
To create this amazing storage solution, the researchers used a Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM) to image and manipulate the atoms one at a time.
They arranged them into 64bit blocks of memory, that were then encoded in binary patterns. This give these blocks the properties of a QR code, which can then be accessed through other devices easily.
The data they stored to christen this process was a speech made by the famous physicist Richard Feynman, who was the first one to envision that one day atoms would be used for data storage.
In this manner, they were able to immortalize the words of Feynman, which now have transformed from optimistic future gazing into proven history.
As you can guess, this technology is still in it’s infancy, with lots of hurdles to cross before it can be used on a large scale. But this first step is what will be remembered by the future generations as the beginning of a new era in data storage.