Researchers at I.B.M. have stored and retrieved digital 1s and 0s from an array of just 12 atoms, pushing the boundaries of the magnetic storage of information to the edge of what is possible.
The group at I.B.M.’s Almaden Research Center here, led by Andreas Heinrich, has now created the smallest possible unit of magnetic storage by painstakingly arranging two rows of six iron atoms on a surface of copper nitride.
Such closeness is possible because the cluster of atoms is antiferromagnetic — a rare quality in which each atom in the array has an opposed magnetic orientation. (In common ferromagnetic materials like iron, nickel and cobalt, the atoms are magnetically aligned.)
Under the laboratory’s founder, Don Eigler, I.B.M. has explored the science of nanomaterials far smaller than the silicon chips used in today’s semiconductors. Dr. Eigler recently retired from the company but is a co-author of the Science paper.
Source: New York Times