Tiny Hard Drive Uses Single Atoms to Store Data

The proof-of-concept device can pack hundreds of times as much data per square inch than the most advanced, commercially available data-storage technologies today.

By manipulating the interactions between individual atoms, scientists report they have created a device that can pack hundreds of times more information per square inch than the best currently available data-storage technologies.

The working prototype is part of a decades-long attempt to shrink electronics down to the atomic level, a feat scientists believe would allow them to store information much more efficiently, in less space and more cheaply. By comparison, tech companies today build warehouse-sized data centers to store the billions of photos, videos and posts consumers upload to the internet daily. Corporations including International Business Machines Corp. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. also have explored research to reduce such space needs.

The so-called atomic-scale memory, described in a paper published on Monday in the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology, can hold one kilobyte, the equivalent of roughly a paragraph of text.

It may not sound “very impressive,” said Franz Himpsel, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who wasn’t involved in the study. But “I would call it a breakthrough.”

Most previous attempts at encoding information with atoms, including his own, managed roughly one byte, Dr. Himpsel said. And data could be stored only once. To store new information, the “disk” had to be re-formatted, like CD-Rs popular in the ’90s.

With the new device, “we can rewrite it as often as we like,” said Sander Otte, an experimental physicist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and the lead author on the new paper.

The researchers first stored a portion of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” on the device. They then replaced that with 160 words from a 1959 lecture by physicist Richard Feynman in which he imagined a world powered by devices running on atomic-scale memory.

To build their prototype, the scientists peppered a flat copper bed with about 60,000 chlorine atoms scattered at random, purposely leaving roughly 8,000 empty spaces among them. A mapping algorithm guided the tiny, copper-coated tip of a high-tech microscope to gently pull each chlorine atom to a predetermined location, creating a precise arrangement of atoms and neighboring “holes.”

The team also crafted a language for their device. The stored information is encoded in the patterns of holes between atoms. The atom-tugging needle reads them as ones and zeros, turning them into regular binary code.

The researchers marked up the grid with instructions that cued the software where it should direct the needle to write and read data. For instance, a three-hole diagonal line marked the end of a file.

“That’s what I really love in this work,” said Elke Scheer, a nanoscientist at the University of Konstanz in Germany not involved with the study. “It’s not just physics. It’s also informatics.”

Writing the initial data to the device took about a week, though the rewriting process takes just a few hours, Dr. Otte said.

“It’s automated, so it’s 10 times faster than previous examples,” said Christopher Lutz, a staff scientist at IBM Research-Almaden in San Jose, Calif. Still, “this is very exploratory. It’s important not to see this one-kilobyte memory result as something that can be taken directly to a product.”

Reading the stored data is much too slow to have practical applications soon. Plus, the device is stable for only a few hours at extremely low temperatures. To be competitive with today’s hard drives, the memory would have to persist for years and work in warmer temperatures, said Victor Zhirnov, chief scientist at the Semiconductor Research Corp., a research consortium based in Durham, N.C.

When Dr. Otte’s team took the memory out of the extremely low-temperature environment in which it was built and stored, the information it held was lost. Next, his team will explore other metal surfaces as well as elements similar to, but heavier than, chlorine, to see if that improves the device’s stability.

“There’s many combinations to play with,” he said.

(Written by Daniela Hernandez, Wall Street Journal. Further readings: Nature Nanotechnology.)

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Movie ‘Frank & Lola’ was released in December 9, 2016 in genre Drama. Matthew Ross was directed this movie and starring by Michael Shannon. This movie tell story about A psychosexual noir love story, set in Las Vegas and Paris, about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and, ultimately, the search for redemption.film Life online streaming

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Presenter: John O’Connor, director, product and market strategy, aerospace and defense, Siemens PLM.

Sponsor: Siemens PLM

Source: CompositesWorld

Significant disruptions are occurring in the space market that include important advances in the use of composite material technologies. Industry experts recognize that the use of carbon fiber, and other composite materials, is growing significantly in spacecraft, satellite, launch vehicle and virtually all other spaceflight-related applications. This trend is being driven by a requirement to decrease weight, increase payload and reduce fuel requirements. This webinar will discuss how the use of composite materials creates unique challenges for both engineering and manufacturing, and provide an overview of the specialized technology that is necessary to address these challenges. Learn how Siemens PLM Software is being used to help companies meet the growing need for composite design and manufacturing solutions in spaceflight applications.

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The Advanced Coatings for Offshore Renewable Energy (ACORN) project has developed a new protective coating that will extend the lifetime of marine structures to 20 or more years and avoid the need for supplementary cathodic protection.watch full movie The Invisible Guest 2017 onlineLogan 2017 movie trailer

The result will be an entirely new, non-paint solution for the protection of offshore renewable energy steel structures including docks, buoys, and oil and gas rigs. Once successful, the coating will boost the competitiveness of the industry and help trigger a widespread roll-out of the different offshore technologies.

Corrosion, fouling and cavitation represent a huge challenge for the industry, especially since offshore structures cannot be dry-docked to fix these problems.

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The project involved the creation of a highly differentiated and patentable technical solution that could even be extended in the longer term. It uses thermally sprayed aluminium (TSA) – a substance with proven long-term corrosion resistance – to provide a matrix coating with a lifespan of 20 + years.

This porous mix is then dotted with environmentally-friendly active antifouling substances in very tiny concentrations (< 1 %) which will be gradually exposed at the active surface of the coating as the TSA corrodes away at a rate of 10µm per year.

Project scientists chose a 99.5 % pure aluminium coating applied with the twin arc spraying method. The eco-friendly anti-fouling substances were then chosen for their performance, commercial availability and regulatory approval for use in EU waters.

Scientists also evaluated the inert antifoul carriers for stability in seawater, hydrophobicity and for low processing temperatures to protect the anti-fouling agents. Barnacle resistance tests were then undertaken in marine trials off the coast of Sweden.

Coatings for tidal power to boost lifespan

ACORN is also developing a corrosion and cavitation-resistant coating with a 10 + year design life for tidal energy generators which operate in high-velocity environments.

Three coatings were selected: a tungsten carbide containing alloy, an aluminium oxide and an iron-based alloy. They were chosen for their behaviour under cavitation conditions, compatibility with the substrate material, corrosion performance, a lack of heavy metal content, environmental safety and finally, cost and manufacturing considerations. The three substances were coated onto initial test coupons and assessed for resistance to both cavitation and seawater corrosion.

Computer simulations supported the studies on hydrofoils and model turbine blades in a cavitation tunnel to fully assess each coating’s performance under expected service conditions.

Now that the project is working on the commercialisation of the new coating, it is hoped that this will make a major contribution to providing environmentally safe solutions as global energy demands and a shift towards renewable energies will likely see the construction of more offshore energy installations over the next decades.

(Source: www.phys.org)

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