Scientists in the Netherlands have created the world’s smallest hard disk by inventing a breakthrough system capable of writing bits of information onto a single atom.
What that means is potentially groundbreaking in a world of ever-expanding needs for storage. The team at the Technical University of Delft, led by Sander Otte have created a truly mind-blowing 500TB disk that is just one-square-inch!
So how on Earth does it work?
Well, each bit of data is stored in the position of individual chlorine atoms on the copper surface of the chip – at just 0.099 nm in size (Covalent Radii). That means they can fit half a petabyte per square inch, bringing the constant battle between storage capacity and size reduction to a level we’ve never seen before.
"In theory, this storage density would allow all books ever created to be written on a single post stamp," Dr Otte commented. “Or, by another measure, the entire contents of the US Library of Congress could be stored in a 0.1mm-wide cube."
How is information written to such a tiny memory?
The team use what is called a scanning tunnelling microscope – a highly advanced process that uses a microscopic sharp needle to probe the atoms on the surface of the chip, implanting them with information.
During this, the data and the needle pushes atoms around to their correct positions, fitting them tightly together for consistent data read/write – kind of like a sliding puzzle as Dr Otte compares it to.
"Every bit consists of two positions on a surface of copper atoms, and one chlorine atom that we can slide back and forth between these two positions," Sander continued. "If the chlorine atom is in the top position, there is a hole beneath it - we call this a 1. If the hole is in the top position and the chlorine atom is therefore on the bottom, then the bit is a 0."
So, great! When can I get my own?
Well… There’s some bad news there. The only way this microscope technique works is at a temperature of almost -200 degrees Celsius (-328F) in a near-perfect vacuum. Don’t expect a 500TB SD Card on the PC World shelves any time soon.
“In its current form the memory can operate only in very clean vacuum conditions and at liquid nitrogen temperature (77 K or -195C), so the actual storage of data on an atomic scale is still some way off,” Dr Otte admitted. “But through this achievement we have certainly come a big step closer.”
So with a surprisingly impressive stability and scalability of this storage, the team are continuing their research into this area to see if they can bring it out of the vacuum… This could be incredibly beneficial in reducing down the sheer size of data centres across the planet.
So the name of the eighth instalment in the Star Wars franchise has been revealed as The Last Jedi. Let's make some way-too-early story predictions...
It's common fact that there isn't a gender gap in gaming, as an Entertainment Software Association report claims about half of the players are women. But what exactly are they playing? Well, Quantic Foundry conducted a study showing what genres have a female monopoly.
Nissan has announced they will be the first car manufacturer to put autonomous cars on public roads in Europe – being cleared by UK Government to begin trials in Britain.
It’s rare that a gadget makes you smile - like, really smile with a simple intention of bringing joy to one’s life. Parihug, an internet-connected teddy bear that let’s you hug a loved one from across the globe, is one of those rare times.
HTC announced some new upgrades for their Vive VR platform - including a new motion tracker, wireless adaptor and improved audio. But is this new hardware any good? I went to their private event at CES 2017 and found out...
Another year, another tonne of TV announcements at CES 2017 - but what were the best screens out there in Vegas? I found out and wrote a feature for BBC's Science Focus Magazine!
Everybody hates Blue Monday - the gloomiest day of the year according to research. Well, let's cheer things up with the chance to win a Monster Superstar Hotshot: one of the best bluetooth speakers I've ever tested. To enter, just subscribe to New Rising Media's mailing list.
We all love to take pictures of the starry skies at night. But to achieve the same incredible astronomy photography seen on desktop wallpapers and magazines, it takes some incredibly expensive and cumbersome equipment. That is until now, as the Tiny1 reproduces incredible space pictures with the form factor of a smartphone.
Ever wished you could just shut out the times when your friends decide to watch terrible shows on the TV? Well, with Holosonics Audio Spotlight speakers, now you can - built to project sounds like a beam of light to the person sitting right in front of it.
Way back in October, I wrote a somewhat controversial piece about why the Nintendo Switch is set up for failure - highlighting some key problems the company should avoid if they want to stand a chance against Sony and Microsoft. Did they listen? Let's take a look at what they announced in Tokyo.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.