London, Jan 26 (ANI): Researchers at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, have used a feature of the electron to create holograms that pack information into subatomic spaces, which could one day lead to unlimited information storage.
"Our results will challenge some fundamental assumptions people had about the ultimate limits of information storage," graduate student Chris Moon, one of the authors of the work, told Nature News.
The research team at Stanford University used a feature of the electron - its tendency to bounce probabilistically between different quantum states - to create holograms that pack information into subatomic spaces.
By encoding information into the electron's quantum shape, or wave function, the researchers were able to create a holographic drawing that contained 35 bits per electron.
Compared to previous technologies, Moon and his colleagues saw a way to go smaller by using a quantum analogy to the conventional hologram.
They used the quantum properties of electrons, rather than photons, as their source of 'illumination'.
Using a scanning tunnelling microscope, they stuck carbon monoxide molecules onto a layer of copper - their holographic plate. The molecules were positioned to create speckled patterns that would result in a holographic 'S'.
The sea of electrons that exists naturally at the surface of the copper layer served as their illumination.
Just as water bouncing off stones in a show pond create a rippling wave patterns, these electrons interfere with the carbon monoxide molecules to create a quantum hologram.
The researchers read the hologram using the microscope to measure the energy state of a single electron wave function. They showed they could read out an 'S' - for Stanford - with features as small as 0.3 nanometers.
In addition to breaking the atomic limit for information storage, the researchers demonstrated one of the essential features of holography.
They stacked two layers, or pages, of information - in this case, an 'S' and a 'U' - within the same hologram. They teased out the individual pages by scanning the hologram for electrons at different energy levels.
This led the Stanford team to think about the creation of quantum circuits.
In encoding the 'S', the researchers were concentrating the electron density at certain points and energy levels, and a concentration of electrons in space is, in essence, a wire.
That led study co-author Hari Manoharan to think about using the holograms as stackable quantum circuits, which may eventually be needed to wire together a quantum computer. (ANI)