Blocks and rows of chlorine atoms encode words
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.