Using a Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM), we are now able to reliably remove and replace single atoms of hydrogen on a silicon surface. These new techniques allow us to store binary information, used in modern computers, with just one atom representing each bit, or unit, of information. The stored information can be changed by adding or removing atoms to write new information. We have stored each letter of the alphabet one by one in a small 8-bit atomic memory. Extending these techniques further, we built a 192-bit memory, where we stored a simplified version of the first 24 notes from the Mario video game by moving just 62 atoms. This 192-bit memory is the densest solid-state memory to date (138 terabytes per square inch). At this density, all of the 45 million songs on iTunes could be stored on the surface of just one 25 cent coin. More importantly, these memory structures are stable to +200 ˚C (+392 ˚F), overcoming the need for operating temperatures below -200 ˚C (-328 ˚F), a problem many other nanostructures face. At the moment, these memories are ideal for the long-term storage and archival of data. As the writing and reading speeds improve with continued development, more and more applications may become possible.
This work was supported by the University of Alberta Faculty of Science, Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC), Alberta Innovates, Quantum Silicon Inc., and the National Research Council Nanotechnology Research Centre (NRC NRC).
Full article available (Open Access) at Nature Communications: https://www.nature.com/articles/s4146…
Coin sound courtesy of: https://freesound.org/s/341695/