One Atom Bit
Utilizing Scanning Tunnelling Microscope
One bit of digital information can now be successfully stored in an individual atom, according to a study just published in Nature. Current commercially-available magnetic memory devices require approximately one million atoms to do the same.
Andreas Heinrich, newly appointed Director of the Center for Quantum Nanoscience, within the Institute of Basic Science (IBS, South Korea), led the research effort that made this discovery at IBM Almaden Research Center (USA). This result is a breakthrough in the miniaturization of storage media and has the potential to serve as a basis for quantum computing.
A Quantum Sensor Made from Individual Iron Atoms
QNS researchers, in collaboration with a team of IBM researchers in the USA have succeeded in using individual iron atoms as quantum sensors. Using this sensor, they were able to measure the small magnetic field created by neighboring magnetic atoms, an effect that was previously not measurable in scanning tunneling microscopy.
This work is the first application of a recent breakthrough invention of the same team, which demonstrated electron spin resonance – a quantum mechanical measurement of single spins – in the STM. “We believe that this quantum sensor can be used to measure the spins in complex molecules with atomic-scale spatial resolution, sort of like a nano-GPS”, suggests Taeyoung Choi, first author of the recent study.
Scanning Tunneling Microscope
At QNS, we are using STM not only to image surfaces with atomic resolution but also to move the atoms into desired configurations. This enable us to engineer these nanostructures and then build them with ultimate precision. Finally, we use very high resolution spectroscopic measurements to investigate the electronic and magnetic properties of such systems.