A Breakthrough in Technology Comes as IBM Build an Atomic Hard Drive

The advancement of technology always has and always will move at an incredible rate. By the time most of us get used to one new, innovative idea, another one springs up (not that I’m complaining). Well, IBM has announced another new breakthrough for the multi-billion dollar corporation and his time it comes in the form of an atomic hard drive.

It may be tiny in size, but this atomic hard drive development is monumental in terms of the advancement of storage technology. While most modern hard drives need around 100,000 atoms just to store one bit, this new type of hard drive could shrink this down no end with IBM experts already projecting that the entire 35 million tracks in iTunes catalog will fit onto a disk no bigger than a credit card with this new method in place.

A single atom of holmium credit: IBM Research – Almaden

The way it works is by using atoms of holmium on top of a magnesium oxide surface. This ensures that the atom’s magnetic poles remain stable at all times.  How these poles are oriented determines if the atom constitutes a 0 or a 1. In order to write to the storage system, the atom’s orientation is flipped using a current induced by a microscopic needle.  To read the information, the magnetic current that passes through each atom is measured. But, considering that it currently needs a liquid nitrogen cooling system to work, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing it in the next iPhone or two.

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