EPFL scientists have built a single-atom magnet that is the most stable to-date. The breakthrough paves the way for the scalable production of miniature magnetic storage devices.
Magnetic storage devices such as computer hard drives or memory cards are widespread today. But as computer technology grows smaller, there is a need to also miniaturize data storage. This is epitomized by an effort to build magnets the size of a single atom. However, a magnet that small is very hard to keep “magnetized”, which means that it would be unable to retain information for a meaningful amount time.
In a breakthrough study published in Science, researchers led by EPFL have now built a single-atom magnet that, although working at around 40 Kelvin (-233.15 oC), is the smallest and most stable to date.