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Single atom revolutionises storage

New research may be about to change the way storage can be miniaturised as a single-atom magnet has been developed by researchers in Switzerland. According to Engineering and Technology magazine the effects could be profound.

It seems so recently that we were looking into the possibility of recording data into quartz rocks, which would render it effectively immortal. This time the work has gone into reducing the size of the devices we all need.

The idea is to make storage media from rare chemical compound holmium, which occurs in the minerals monazite and gadolinite. This has a unique electron structure which enables it to remain magnetic in larger quantities (atom-level magnets generally lose their magnetism as they get bigger), so it could continue to hold data in larger quantities.

Quite when we can expect to see production of anything based on this sort of technology remains to be seen – but the possibilities it could open up would be considerable.