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KIT - Single atom nano-bit forms smallest memory in the world

DCN Corp® - The Scanning Tunneling Microscope (SEM) makes single Holmium atoms on a Platinum surface visible.  Credit - Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), GermanyTypically in modern day hardware/semiconductor manufacturing - one atom equals one bit...

According to this design principle, nano-technologist are seeking to construct innovative magnetic data as memories of the future - dubbed nano-bits.  Presently, a compound of several million atoms is required to stabilise a magnetic bit in a manner that hard disk data are secure for several years.  However, researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany, have claimed to have just made a big step towards a single-atom nano-bit.  Essentially they fixed a single atom on a surface such that the magnetic spin remained stable for almost ten minutes.  Such a groundbreaking development was published in Nature - Stabilising the magnetic moment of single Holmium atoms by symmetry. [1]

As explained by a researcher, Wuld Wulfhekel - "often, a single atom fixed to a substrate is so sensitive that its magnetic orientation is stable for fractions of a micro-second (200 nano-seconds) only."  Together with a colleague, Halle - Wulfhekel succeeded in extending such a period by a factor of about a billion-to-several minutes.  Wulfhekel went onto state - "this does not only open up the possibility of designing more compact computer memories, but could also be the basis for the set-up of quantum computers."  Typically quantum computers are based on quantum physics properties of atomic systems.  In theory it is claimed quantum computers speed might exceed that of classical PCs by several factors.

In the KIT experiment, the researchers placed a single Holmium (Ho) atom onto a Platinum (Pt) base substrate - at temperatures close to absolute zero (ca. 1 degree Kelvin), whereby they measured the magnetic orientation of the atom employing the fine tip of a Scanning Tunneling Microscope (SEM).  The magnetic spin changed after approximately 10 minutes.  Wulfhekel states - "hence, the magnetic spin of the system is stable for a period that is about a billion times longer that that of comparable atomic systems."  Specifically for the experiment, a novel SEM of KIT was applied - especially due to its special cooling system for the temperature range close to absolute zero, it is nearly vibration-free and allows for long measurement times.

Arthur Ernst from Max Plank Institute of Micro-structure Physics explains - "to stabilise the magnetic moment for longer periods of time, we suppressed the impact of the surroundings on the atom."  Ernst performed the theoretical calculations for the experiment.  Unfortunately, normally, the electrons of the substrate and of the atom interact quantum-mechanically and de-stabilise the spin of the atom within micro-seconds or even faster.  However, by employing Ho and Pt at low temperatures - disturbing interactions are excluded due to the symmetry properties of the quantum system.  Ernst continues to state - "In Principle, Holmium and Platinum are invisible to each other as far as spin scattering is concerned."  Based on the above experimental set-up - now,abov the Ho spin might be adjusted and information might be written by means of external magnetic fields.  Therefore, this would be the prerequisite for the development of future compact data memories or quantum computers.  Original article available here

The KIT research is certainly interesting and enlightening towards the future emergence of nano-bit computer systems.  Also, this is where DCN Corp strongly believes it can provide a premier nanotechnology hardware output. In terms that it can provide a nano-fabrication methodology easily facilitating the above base substrate set-up.  Therefore, if you and/or your colleagues are interested in making the above research findings reality - please ensure to contact the company as soon as practicably possible.

[1] Miyamachi, T., Schuh, T., Markl, T., Bresch, C., Balashov, T., Stohr, A., Karlewski, C., Andre, S., Marthaler, M., Hoffmann, M., Geilhufe, M., Ostanin, S., Hergert, W., Mertig, I., Schon, G., Ernst, A. and Wulfhekel, W.  Stabilising the magnetic moment of single Holmium atoms by symmetry. Nature 503, 242-246 (2013) Journal citation available here