Scientists from the University of Radboud discovered a new mechanism for the magnetic storage of information in the smallest unit of matter: an atom. Despite the fact that proof of principle has been demonstrated at very low temperatures, this mechanism promises to operate at room temperature. Thus, it is possible to store thousands of times more information than now on hard drives. The results were published in Nature Communications.
When you attain the level of a single atom, the magnetic atoms become unstable. “The permanent magnet determines the presence of the North and South poles that stay in one orientation,” says Professor Alexander Hachaturyan. “But when you get to a single atom of the North and South poles of the atom begin to change and don’t know in which direction to specify because they are extremely sensitive to their surroundings. If you want to the atom in a magnetic stored information, it should not rush. In the past ten years, scientists wondered: how many atoms are necessary to stabilize the magnet, so that the atom ceased to fluctuate, and how long can you keep it before the atom again spun? Over the past two years, scientists from Lausanne and IBM have figured out how to keep the atom from collapsing, and showed that a single atom can act as a memory. To do this they had to use a very low temperature of -233 degrees Celsius. This restricts the application of technology.”
A new approach to the storing of information in the atom
Scientists from the University Redbud has taken a different approach. Choosing a special substrate is semiconductor black phosphorus — they found a new way of storing information in individual atoms of cobalt, which solves the traditional problems with instability. Using a scanning tunneling microscope, when a sharp metal probe is moved over the surface at a distance of only a few atoms, they “saw” a single cobalt atoms on the surface of black phosphorus. They also were able to directly show that individual cobalt atoms can be manipulated, introducing them to one of two bit States.
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