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‘World’s tiniest tech’: Tel Aviv University unveils 2-atom-thick data storage

Researchers say development could improve electronic devices’ speed and energy consumption

In a screenshot from video released by Tel Aviv University on June 30, PhD student Maayan Wizner Stern uses tweezers to hold an electronic storage unit that is two-atoms thick. (Screen capture: YouTube)
In a screenshot from video released by Tel Aviv University on June 30, PhD student Maayan Wizner Stern uses tweezers to hold an electronic storage unit that is two-atoms thick. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Researchers at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday unveiled “the world’s tiniest technology,” aimed at storing information on the thinnest unit known to science.

The film is composed of a one-atom-thick layer of boron and a one-atom-thick layer of nitrogen sliding one over the other. It is able to store electric information, with the university saying such storage “may significantly improve electronic devices in terms of speed, density and energy consumption.”

According to the university, current state-of-the-art nano storage devices are at least 100 atoms thick.

The university’s Moshe Ben Shalom, who was involved in the project, explained that the smaller number of atoms in the device could improve speed and reduce energy consumption.

“Our research stems from curiosity about the behavior of atoms and electrons in solid materials, which has generated many of the technologies supporting our modern way of life,” he said.

He said the thin structure enables storage “based on the quantum ability of electrons to hop quickly and efficiently through barriers that are just several atoms thick.”

Maayan Wizner Stern, a PhD student who led the study, said she believed the technology could have other applications beyond information storage.

“We expect that this technology will contribute to detectors, energy storage and conversion, interaction with light, etc. Our challenge, as we see it, is to discover more crystals with new and slippery degrees of freedom,” she said.

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