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Store your data on an atom

If you’ve seen The Last Mimzy, the part where they showed an atomic-sized Intel chip, you probably started asking, when will we get there? IBM seems to have found an answer.

IBM stores data on an atom
As researchers look for ways to replace silicon in order to shrink chips, IBM has been able to perform functions like switching and data storage on atoms and molecules

IBM has pioneered the process at their Almaden Research lab in California. Essentially, researchers detect ‘magnetic anisotropy, a property of the magnetic field that gives it the ability to maintain a particular direction’. Since the process allows the detection of the ‘direction’ individual atoms are facing, this is the first step towards the ones and zeroes used in binary. “In a second report, researchers at IBM’s lab in Zurich, Switzerland, said they had used an individual molecule as an electric switch that could potentially replace the transistors used in modern chips. The company published both research reports in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.The new technologies are at least 10 years from being used for components in commercial products, but the discoveries will allow scientists to take a large step forward in their quest to replace silicon, said IBM spokesman Matthew McMahon.”

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