Dutch Scientists Create World’s Smallest Hard Drive

A robotic tape library used for mass storage of digital data is pictured at the Konrad-Zuse Centre for applied mathematics and computer science (ZIB), in Berlin August 13, 2013. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters/Thomas Peter)
A robotic tape library used for mass storage of digital data is pictured at the Konrad-Zuse Centre for applied mathematics and computer science (ZIB), in Berlin August 13, 2013. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters/Thomas Peter)

Dutch scientists have developed a unique solution to deal with the data storage problem. By manipulating single atoms, researchers have created the world’s smallest hard drive capable of storing 1 kilobyte of data (8000 bits) in a space under 100 nanometers across. The technology means that all the books in the world could be stored on a device the size of a postage stamp.

In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, scientists from the Technical University of Delft (TU Delft) said that they have created an atomic hard drive with a storage density that is 500 times greater than current hard drive technology.

Associate Professor at TU Delft and lead researcher Sander Otte and his team found that placing chlorine atoms on a copper surface created the perfect square grid. A hole appears in the grid when an atom is missing. Using a scanning tunneling microscope, scientists were able to move atoms around one by one and even drag individual atoms toward the hole.

When a chlorine atom is on top with a hole beneath it, it’s a one, the binary digit and when it’s the other way around it’s a zero — thus creating a hard drive.

“The combination of chlorine atoms and supporting copper crystal surface that we found now, combined with the fact that we manipulate ‘holes’—just as in a sliding puzzle—makes for a much more reliable, reproducible and scalable manipulation technique that can easily be automated,” Otte said. “It is as if we have invented the atomic scale printing press.”

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SOURCE: International Business Times, Mary Pascaline