Supersmall device uses individual atoms to store data | Science News

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


Science Visualized

Supersmall device uses individual atoms to store data

Blocks and rows of chlorine atoms encode words

By
7:00am, August 15, 2016
close-up of storage device with key for letters

ATOMIC CODE  Scientists manipulated chlorine atoms on a supersmall device to store an excerpt from a 1959 Richard Feynman lecture (a portion shown above with each letter translated).

These orderly patterns of dark blue dots indicate where individual chlorine atoms are missing from an otherwise regular grid of atoms. Scientists manipulated these vacancies to create a supersmall data storage device.

The locations of vacancies encode bits of information in the device, which Sander Otte of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and colleagues describe July 18 in Nature Nanotechnology. The team arranged and imaged the vacancies using a scanning tunneling microscope. The storage system, which can hold a kilobyte of data, must be cooled to a chilly −196° Celsius to work.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News