Today, we are in a need of a new storage paradigm that will actually take up less space than the current data centers. Albeit being the highly organized version of data storage solutions, data centers consume a vast amount of space and energy. However, re-writable atomic memory could be a possible solution to this problem.
Researchers from the Delft University of Technology in Netherlands just announced their atomic-level breakthrough in data storage. In order to store the data, their experiment involves zooming up to the atomic arrangement of Copper Chloride (CuCl2).
They placed the copper chloride powder on a copper surface and heated it at 300-degree Celsius till the evaporation of the powder, which formed a grid-like structure of the chlorine atoms. The imperfect 8×8 atom grid contained vacancies between the atoms, which are vital to the existence of atom-based storage. Each pair of missing (vacancies) and filled in atoms is interpreted as a bit (0 or 1) by a scanning tunneling microscope (STM).
To perform the write operation, the STM tip created vacancies at the original position by moving the atoms to the vacancies. Each atom shift availed to 1 bit of data stored. The 8×8 grid was used to form a letter and multiple grids were used to create a sentence.
The same STM tip was used to read the data back into the system. However, the STM tip actually didn’t touch the atoms. “The STM tip is a super-sensitive height probe that can tell if there is an atom beneath it or a hole, and thus read out the data,” said Associate Professor Sander Otte in an email to Mashable.
The researchers also invented a set of traffic signs which would guide the STM about where to start and the read/write operation, as well as detecting a broken line or block. The research has been published in the Nature Science Journal.