09/03/2017 10:11 GMT

IBM Has Stored An Entire Bit Of Data On A Single Atom

Mind. Blown.

If you’re impressed with what you’ve achieved at work this week, you might want to put your PowerPoint presentation to one side, because IBM has just revealed they’ve achieved something pretty mega.

The tech giant announced on Wednesday that they have created the world’s smallest magnet, capable of storing an entire bit of digital data on a single atom. 

How’s that for flat pack storage?


This drastic reduction in required storage space – modern hard drives currently require about 100,000 atoms to store a bit – is exciting news for the future of digital technology. 

To put it in context, IBM claims this advancement would allow you to store the entire iTunes catalogue (that is 35 million tracks) on to a device the size of a credit card.

Constructed using atoms of holmium, atop a magnesium oxide surface, this storage system requires a microscopic needle to induce a current to flip the atom’s orientation, in order to write to it.

But don’t expect this technology to turn up in your next iPhone, it currently requires a liquid-nitrogen-cooled tunneling electron microscope (STM) that actually won a Nobel Prize, situated in a vacuum to work. 

You might want to hold off buying all that music then.