Tiny 12 Atom-wide IBM Memory Stick - VIDEO, PHOTOS
How small's your tiniest USB stick? IBM takes your slimmest USB stick and raises you a memory stick the size of 12 tiny atoms.
The astoundingly small data storage is 100 times more dense than hard disk drives and solid state memory chips.
IBM Research placed binary code (a sequence of zeros and ones) on a mere 12 iron atoms to demonstrate just how small data storage can shrink to.
According to the researchers, that's the smallest memory bit ever made, reports the BBC.
The invisible storage is the logical solution to the world's data storage problem.
In a statement, IBM Research said "Computers that used to occupy entire rooms now fit into our pockets. But these incremental improvements won't last forever. The ability to manipulate matter by its most basic components - atom by atom - and explore their properties from the "bottom up," enabled IBM Research to build the world's smallest magnetic memory bit and answered the question of how many atoms it really takes to reliably store one bit of magnetic information: 12."
Ferromagnets have worked well so far to create magnetic data storage, but size was always an issue. Now the unconventional form of magnetism called antiferromagnetism has flipped the size we need for storage by using the atoms inherent alternating magnetic spin to pack bits much closer together than has ever been possible.
So what will the shrinking amount of space required to store data mean for you and me? More space at home for shoes and cases of wine, and less lugging around of heavy back-up drives and heavy laptops.
This incredible breakthrough makes for some very pretty pictures, as you can see in the slideshow below.