The technology world is always marching on, and a big push is to make things like computers and storage systems smaller, faster, and higher capacity. That can get to be very tricky though with processes used for microprocessors and other tech already working at the nanometer level. IBM has created a new method of storing data, creating a storage device that needs an amazingly tiny number of atoms.
Traditional storage methods apparently need millions of atoms to storage the bits and bytes that make up our data. The new IBM breakthrough can store that data with only 12 little atoms needed. The new technique uses ferromagnetism and might lead to smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient devices in the future. No one really knew how many atoms were needed to build magnetic memory structures that were reliable. IBM has now found that magic number.
The problem in the past was that using atoms to store data introduced issues with the neighboring bits affecting each other. IBM had to make a breakthrough in controlling the interaction between bits. The trick was to atomically engineer twelve atoms antiferromagnetically coupled. The atoms could store a bit of data for multiple hours at low temperatures. The tech has a long way to go before it lands in your computer, but this is a very interesting breakthrough.