Single atoms hold on to information

Minutes-long data storage beats previous record of tiny fraction of a second

By Andrew Grant, 11:23 AM November 13, 2013

Individual atoms can store information for minutes at a time, researchers report in the Nov. 14 Nature. That’s more than a billion times as long as any previous experiment with single atoms.

Computer hard drives store data using magnetized cells that each consist of up to a million atoms; the direction of the atoms’ collective magnetization determines whether the cell holds a 1 or 0. Scientists would love to coax individual atoms to store information, but single atoms are unpredictable. For on...

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