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The future of data storage might be frozen

David Goldman / AP

Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK have shown that by controlling the magnetic properties of individual molecules, it could be possible to create hard drives that can store 30+ terabits of data per square centimeter, New Scientist reports.

  • Because the molecules are unstable, they have to be frozen to -213° Celsius. With those temperature requirements, this won't work for amping up your cell phone storage.
  • Hard drives on desktops are divvied up into small magnetized areas that encode data in the direction of molecules' magnetic fields. Until now, this approach has limited how small a hard drive can be because single molecules can't remember their magnetic direction. The researchers were able to do get a molecule to do that at -213°C.
  • What's next: They want to make it work at -196°Celsius so it can be used in data centers cooled with liquid nitrogen. Another possibility? Space-based data centers operating at a cool -270°C.
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