IBM researchers have demonstrated storing information in structures comprised of just 12 atoms compared to the current highest density hard drives which manage to store a bit in around a million atoms.
IBM Research physicist Andreas Heinrich said: "In this breakthrough what we have done is store magnetic information in only 12 atoms." The group was researching the minimum number of atoms required to store a single bit.
Heinrich explained how the breakthrough was made in a YouTube video posted by IBM Research.
IBm Research boss Spike Narayan revealed that the company invests $6 billion annually in research and development. "From time to time we get to show the world what investment in research can bring to a company," said Narayan.
The findings were published in the journal Science under the impressive title of "Bistability in Atomic-Scale Antiferromagnets". The actual structure created consisted of two rows of six iron atoms deposited on a copper nitride surface.
The structure was built by a scanning tunneling microscope so it’s a long way from any sort of industrial process to mass manufacture.