Thursday, January 12, 2012

Inside the lab: the atomic-scale memory team at Almaden

Today, researchers at Almaden were featured prominently in the media, for their atomic-scale memory discovery. By starting at the very end of data density - single atoms - IBM physicists and scientists in San Jose succeeded in reliably storing one bit of magnetic information at a low temperature in just 12 atoms. Today's hard drives use about 1 million atoms to store the same bit. 

This is a huge breakthrough in understanding how to build smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient devices ranging from business-class servers to cell phones and laptops. 

The team here at Almaden is a unique one - with outside-of-work interests such as winemaking, cross country skiing, photography and drawing, the 5 of them are usually found in their soon-to-be-expanded lab, listening to Pink Floyd, tinkering with the Nobel-prize winning scanning tunneling microscope (complete with the infamous Arizona iced tea aluminum can that "serves a very distinct purpose" - harnessing loose wires) and jotting down inspirational quotes to post around the lab, like the one above: "This could all be real!"

IBM researcher Susanne Baumann was the artist behind this representation of their work, which in the bottom starburst depicts today's discovery. Susanne completed her Master's in physics from the University of Basel in Switzerland and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. there. Seeing Don Eigler's atom manipulation images in her textbooks growing up, she became curious about atoms - the thing that makes up all the matter that surrounds us - and wanted to learn more. She took a position with the team at IBM Research - Almaden over a year ago, and is instrumental in navigating the STM for various experiments, including the one that concluded in this breakthrough discovery.

You can find more information in our press kit and at The IBM press release is here


  1. this is some work. amazing video. thanks for sharing it with us lenovo parts

  2. This is so cool..thanks so much for the info. Love it! essay services

  3. They say you should learn something new everyday and today I have,thanks for the science lesson