The quest for storage devices that pack more information into a smaller space has reached a new limit, with memory that writes information atom-by-atom.
Dutch scientists developed rewritable memory that stores information in the positions of individual chlorine atoms on a copper surface.
The information storage density is two to three orders of magnitude beyond current hard disk or flash technology.
Details of the advance appear in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
The 1 kilobyte memory is the work of a team led by Sander Otte at the Technical University of Delft (TU Delft). With each bit of data represented by the position of a single chlorine atom, the team was able to reach a density of 500 Terabits per square inch.
"In theory, this storage density would allow all books ever created by humans to be written on a single post stamp," said Dr Otte.
Or, by another measure, the entire contents of the US Library of Congress could be stored in a 0.1mm-wide cube.
The researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope (STM), in which a sharp needle probes the atoms on the surface one by one.
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