1. Standard memberDeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    Cosmopolis
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    18 Jul '16 23:17
    A Dutch group has managed to demonstrate a new storage device which is able to use single atoms to store information [1][2]. It has chlorine atoms on a copper substrate (note, these are nice common substances, no rare earths etc.), it stores data using the position of a chlorine atom. The surrounding chlorine atoms tend to stabilize the position. The only downsides are that it requires a scanning tunneling electron microscope, a temperature of 77 Kelvin, and it takes half an hour to write 1K of data. However, as a proof of concept it's great as it can store two to three orders of magnitude more data per unit area than conventional storage media (hard drives and SSD). Here are links to a BBC write up and the Nature Nanotechnology article.

    [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36824902
    [2] http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nnano.2016.131.html
  2. Cape Town
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    19 Jul '16 07:331 edit
    Certainly interesting as a proof of concept. However, space is not an issue in modern storage. What matters is speed, power consumption, permanence, rewriteability and cost. The drive towards smaller is for the sake of speed and power consumption and quite significantly, manufacturing cost, not to save physical space.
  3. Subscribersonhouse
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    19 Jul '16 15:54
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Certainly interesting as a proof of concept. However, space is not an issue in modern storage. What matters is speed, power consumption, permanence, rewriteability and cost. The drive towards smaller is for the sake of speed and power consumption and quite significantly, manufacturing cost, not to save physical space.
    As it stands, it is only a lab demo. Writing with a AFM would be very slow and you would have to wonder how long those atoms could be confined to one location. I would think they would drift off pretty quickly. Looking at the matrix they made you can see locations where the data was unusable right in their best device.

    It is probably never going to be seen in some industrial capacity at least in our lifetimes.