Scientists create world’s smallest magnetic memory chip

Scientists at IT giant IBM have created the world’s smallest magnetic memory chip, which could lead to the build of smaller, faster and more energy-efficient devices.

The scientists successfully showed the ability to store information in as few as 12 magnetic atoms at the first ever demonstration of engineered atomic-scale structures storing information magnetically at low temperatures.

The new atomic-scale magnet memory is at least 100 times denser than today’s hard disk drives, which use about a million atoms to store a single bit of information, and could therefore allow businesses to store 100 times more information in the same space.

“The chip industry will continue its pursuit of incremental scaling in semiconductor technology but, as components continue to shrink, the march continues to the inevitable end point, the atom,” said Andreas Heinrich, lead investigator into atomic storage at IBM.

“We’re taking the opposite approach and starting with the smallest unit, single atoms, to build computing devices one atom at a time,” he added.

The research, which took place in California, USA, was published in the peer-reviewed journal Science. It was previously unknown how many atoms it would take to build a reliable magnetic memory bit.

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