Molecular storage – possible but not bloody likely

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The recent black silicon hubbub was interesting because it provided a concrete improvement over current technology, capable of being implemented with known materials and by known processes. This idea of molecular storage — as opposed to magnetic, or quantum, or what have you — is interesting because of its ambition. Its premise is that molecule-sized switches could increase data density to 4 petabits per square inch. Great, when can I buy one, right?

The thing is, as you might have guessed, this isn’t something that’s even in alpha. It’s a theory about what might be possible if they they can manage to arrange these switches into a usable product. Not only would that require a manufacturing process capable of fitting trillions of these things together perfectly, but also a device that can access the information and fit in a pocket or computer case. So let’s not all lose our marbles here! But like I’ve always said, sometimes research that seems totally impractical leads to advances in related, more applicable technologies — a sort of research halo effect. Let’s hope that’s the case with this.
[Somewhere at Nature Nanotechnology]

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