Nanotube chip could store data for a billion years

Ultra-dense memory should work with today's silicon processing

Researchers have demonstrated a form of archive memory using carbon nanotubes that can theoretically store a trillion bits of data per square inch for a billion years.

The technology could easily be incorporated into today's silicon processing systems and it could be available in the next two years, a lead researcher said.

The scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California said the new technology can potentially pack thousands of times more data into one square inch of space than today's chips.

"We've developed a new mechanism for digital memory storage that consists of a crystalline iron nanoparticle shuttle enclosed within the hollow of a multiwalled carbon nanotube," said physicist Alex Zettl, who led this research.

Zettl, who was lead author of the paper published online by Nano Letters entitled " Nanoscale Reversible Mass Transport for Archival Memory," is perhaps best known for his work on creating the world's smallest radioin 2007, which is one ten-thousandth the width of a human hair.

Zettl said this latest nanotube breakthrough uses an iron nanoparticle, approximately 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, that in the presence of a low voltage electrical current can be shuttled back and forth inside a hollow carbon nanotube with remarkable precision.

The shuttle's position inside the tube can be read out directly via a simple measurement of electrical resistance, allowing the shuttle to function as a nonvolatile memory element with potentially hundreds of binary memory states.

"The shuttle memory has application for archival data storage with information density as high as one trillion bits per square inch and thermodynamic stability in excess of one billion years," Zettl said in a statement. "Furthermore, as the system is naturally hermetically sealed, it provides its own protection against environmental contamination."

Zettl said the low-voltage electrical write/read capabilities of the memory element in the electromechanical device allows for large-scale integration and should make for easy incorporation into today's silicon processing systems.

Zettl believes the technology could be on the market within the next two years.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags storagenanotechnology

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucas Mearian

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?