Scientists on the cusp of inventing atomically small storage devices

In theory, just one atom is enough to store one bit of information. Such technology could make it possible to create unimaginably small storage devices. But getting atoms to behave the way they want is easier said than done. True, it seems that the situation will soon change.

A team of scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Planck Institute and the University of Leipzig are working on the next generation of magnetic storage devices. These are radically new storage media that can lead to the emergence of atomically small computers. They could also take their place in the construction of quantum computers - devices that work using the unique properties of atomic systems.

To achieve this goal, researchers need to learn how to organize atoms so that they behave in the right way. For example, making them stop spinning - at least for a period of time, so that the storage device can perform its functions.

In a new experiment, scientists were able to make the holmium atom, placed on the surface of platinum, under certain conditions, keep its spin stable for 10 minutes. The combination of holmium, platinum and negative temperatures led to the destabilization of the quantum system, which led to the conservation of the moment of the atom.

The next step, the researchers plan to learn how to control the spin more accurately, and then write and read useful information. It would also be nice if they could repeat the experiment under normal temperature conditions.