Technological development and progress seems to be almost unstoppable and so people are no longer surprised that the technology is still improving and shrinking.

Scientists from the Dutch Delft University of Technology created the smallest hard drive in the world that stores data atom by atom.

Scientists were inspired by the speech of the legendary physicist Richard Feynman, who predicted in 1959 that there can be a day when atoms will be used to store information.

Sander Otte, Associate Professor at TU Delft, and his team found that placing chlorine atoms on a copper surface created the perfect square grid.

A hole appears in the grid when an atom is missing. Using a scanning tunneling microscope, scientists were able to move atoms around one by one and even drag individual atoms toward the hole.

atom by atom

When a chlorine atom is on top with a hole beneath it, it’s a one, the binary digit and when it’s the other way around it’s a zero — thus creating a hard drive.

Their miniature hard drive measures just 96×126 nanometers (nm) and has storage space of 1 Kilobyte data. While nowadays it is rare, the efficiency of storage space on the disk size is 500 times better than today’s hard disks.

Sander Otte, head of the research, said that the density of stored information is just the size of a postage stamp, it can store all the books that when people have written.

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