World First: IBM Researchers Store Data On a Single Atom
Discovery Paves Way for Smaller, Denser Storage Systems

IBM researchers have read and written data to a magnet consisting of just one atom for the first time ever. The company’s research results, published in Nature, prove that “the experiment truly creates a lasting, stored magnetic state in a single atom that can be detected indirectly,” TechCrunch reports.

“Magnetic bits lie at the heart of hard-disk drives, tape and next-generation magnetic memory,” said Christopher Lutz, lead nanoscience researcher at IBM Research Almaden in San Jose, California.

“We conducted this research to understand what happens when you shrink technology down to the most fundamental extreme — the atomic scale.”

Although right now the product is pure research, the density of atomic-level storage could substantially alter our relationship with data.

You can already fit your entire music library onto a storage device the size of a penny. IBM’s technique would allow you to fit 26 million songs — Apple’s entire music catalog — onto the same area.

In the future, this development could have significant implications for everything from personal devices and business records to artificial intelligence.