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IBM Introducing Single Atom Data Gates and Molecular Computers

With further work it may be possible to build structures consisting of small clusters of atoms, or even individual atoms, that could reliably store magnetic information. Such a storage capability would enable nearly 30,000 feature length movies or the entire contents of YouTube - millions of videos estimated to be more than 1,000 trillion bits of data - to fit in a device the size of an iPod. Perhaps more importantly, the breakthrough could lead to new kinds of structures and devices that are so small they could be applied to entire new fields and disciplines beyond traditional computing.

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Rooftrellen3614d ago

This is pretty cool stuff. I had to go though a lot of biology and chemistry in college, so I find things like this amazing, but I'm not so sure it can be done in the near future. Data storage on an atom or molecule would have to be done totally without radiation of any atom, and with carbon being the big atom to make molecules, that's not easy due to Carbon-14 not exactly being rare. Naphthalocyanine was mentioned, and it has 48 carbons. If just one of those is Carbon-14, it will decay to Nitrogen-14, and Nitrogen holds one less bond than Carbon, which would mess up the structure.

Believe me, all you need is one little atom different to totally change the properties of what you used to have, and while you can get nearly pure carbon-12, I'm not sure how they get this particular molecule, and if its not though a lab, it's harder to get only Carbon-12, but I assume it is, because it is rare to see Copper in an organic molecule not made in the lab. Still, assuming it was made in a lab, there is no such thing as 100% purification. I beleive it is possible to get ~99.5% carbon-12.

With 48 carbons, though, that is a 21% of failure because of decay to Nitrogen-14, though, I must also add, in that 21%, it could last years without decaying, and it may never decay in the time the molecule is used. Half life, when applied to single atoms, is an amazingly unpredictable thing.

Still, there is radioactive nitrogen, which is in the molecule as well.

I really think this will happen...in the future. We are still far from being able to make molecules that would not fail due to radioactivity. Computers that can hold all of the information on all of the computers in the world, and will fit in your hand will happen, mark my words! However, I don't see this technology being reliable enough for quite some time, because of the chance of getting a radioactive isotope, and the unpredictability of decay with technology as it is right now.

In practice, the failure rates may be low, but with the amount of memory you could store, and knowing we will never get any smaller, there needs to be even less than a 0.1% chance of failure.