North Carolina State researchers have made a big breakthrough in data storage tech, and it's all thanks to some very tiny dots. Using nanodots – tiny nanoscale magnets – the team has manufactured chips that can hold an unprecedented amount of information using surprisingly little real estate. Each dot contains a single bit of data; a one square-inch chip can store over one billion pages of information.
The real technological breakthrough is in the nanodots themselves. Not only can the researchers lay millions of flawless, single-crystal dots on a tiny chip, but the dots can be aligned to face the same direction. That uniformity makes the dots readable and writable for anyone who has the proper device to interact with nanodots.
Therein lies the next challenge: The researchers have to now create some kind of magnetic packaging that will allow users to tap into the nano-wealth of information stored on the chips – likely some kind of laser device that can access such a tiny medium.
If they can get it all working smoothly, the NC State team could initiate a huge leap in computer memory-tech; entire libraries worth of information could be stored, bit by bit, on a single chip small enough to fit in a handheld device.