back to article Boffins unveil 500TB/in2 disk. Yeah, it's made of chlorine. -196˚C, why?

Nano-tech scientists have managed to create the world’s smallest hard disk. The 500TB/inch2 disk can store a kilobyte of memory in a few tiny chlorine atoms, according to new research published in Nature Nanotechnology. Atomic memory is an attractive idea as only a few nanometres of space are needed to store a bit. A team of …

  1. CustardGannet

    -196˚C ?

    That should test those server-room fans to their limit.

    1. 2460 Something
      Thumb Up

      Re: -196˚C ?

      Never mind the servers, need to figure out how to get this for my home rig.

      On the flip side. The more they research any technology the more likely someone is to have a 'breakthrough. Keep up the good work!

      1. Old Handle

        Re: -196˚C ?

        It's not as hard as you'd think, heck I can do that in my kitchen.

        (Yes I have liquid nitrogen in my kitchen.)

        1. Vector

          Re: -196˚C ?

          "’s smallest hard disk..."

          ...and world's largest hard-drive cooler...

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: -196˚C ?

      Excited Chlorine. What could possibly go wrong?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Old meme is old

      I guess you could say this was...


      ...a pretty cool idea.


  2. Tromos

    Keep it well away from Sodium. Your data could end up resembling Lot's wife.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      That's be one way to salt the password hashes.

      1. Adam 1

        > That's be one way to salt the password hashes

        Icy what you did there.

    2. W4YBO

      And Lot said...

      "Salt, we got. Popcorn, we need!"

  3. Alistair

    Cleaners will need to be well educated

    No ammonia.

    1. Hollerithevo

      Re: Cleaners will need to be well educated

      And don't unplug to plug in the hoover! Don't unplug!!!

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Cleaners will need to be well educated

        You'll need a canary in the server room.

  4. DNTP

    Novelty security

    Tech 1: Why are you adding the world's tiniest bag of sodium ions to the world's tiniest choride-atom storage drive?

    Tech 2: It's storing passwords and I want to implement salted hashing.

  5. harmjschoonhoven

    1200 °C

    Between five hundred thousand to two million cuneiform clay tablets survived the millennia because they were baked by (accidental) fire. There is plenty of room at the bottom as Feynman said to store a huge amount of data on clay-like material.

    Mine is the one with the matchbox in the pocket.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Just keep it away from water...

    Unless you want your drive to turn blue !

  7. Fan of Mr. Obvious

    Fun only a scientist, eh-hu, bofin could love

    "To switch an chlorine and vacancy pair, the STM tip zaps the space in between the pair and excites a chlorine atom to make the jump to fill a hole, whilst it leaves another in its wake"

    Heat it to get it to bond, leaves empty space (which is required), interprets the empty space,... and moves the bonded atom to the empty space? Seriously, this stuff is way over my head. I suddenly feel the need to change my life to full-redneck so I can be oblivious to the rest of the world, thus restoring my superiority complex.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Fun only a scientist, eh-hu, bofin could love

      Redneck storage...

      "Yer sees, if I takes my shotgun and let the tree have it at waist height... that's a binary 0, and if I blasts away at head height... that's a binary 1..."

  8. PleebSmasher


    This is important because nanobots (for medical purposes) could use a little bit of shortage.

    I wonder how much memory and FLOPS nanobots will end up having before the hard limits are hit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: useful

      Look to biology. It is presumably the only way to do it at that scale. If there were other ways to do it, biology would have done it that way too/instead of. ;)

      At slightly larger, well you don't need atomic storage. :P

  9. JakeMS

    Nice! But..

    Is it R.A.I.D and Hot Swap compatible?

    1. MotionCompensation

      Re: Nice! But..

      Cold swappable, obviously.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know it is very cool (hah), but I'd really like to know the Data Write/Read rate ...

    STMs are not known for their speed

    1. MrZoolook

      "STMs are not known for their speed"

      Last time I got an STM, my girlfriend ran at a bloody fast rate...

  11. Ru'

    Confusion; if it "...takes six atomic sites to make a bit and 48 to make a byte..." then surely it would take rather more "...a few tiny chlorine atoms..." to " a kilobyte of memory..."?

    I suppose it depends how you define "few" though...

  12. Disk0
    Thumb Up


    ...I dropped my datacenter and it slipped between the cracks of the floor...

  13. AIBailey

    Cool, but...

    ... a "hard disk" it aint.

    Boffins unveil 500TB/in2 disk.

    It's not a disk for starters, and if it relies on a STM to accurately push atoms around, it's certainly not going to be spinning.

    1. Mikey

      Re: Cool, but...

      Yes, I see your point. But now explain to me how an SSD is a disk, even though that uses electrons to fill in tiny electron vacancies in semiconductors and unless possessed, really doesn't spin at all..?

      1. Roj Blake

        Re: Cool, but...

        An SSD isn't a disk. The D in SSD stands for drive.

        1. Mikey

          Re: Cool, but...

          Damn you, spoiling my fun there! Let me enjoy myself in the mornings, at least?

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cool, but...

        The electrons/atoms have "spin".

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