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Connecting The Nanodots

Nanodots allow us to hold an entire library (1 billion pages) on one computer chip.

Picture a really big library. Imagine that it contains 2.5 million books, and that each of those books is 400 pages long. Now imagine that you could fit ALL of those books onto a computer chip the size of your thumbnail. Researchers just figured out how to do exactly that. The trick is to use something called a nanodot.

Nanodots are incredibly tiny magnets. They can be as small as six nanometers in diameter, which is over 10,000 times narrower than a human hair. Since they are so small, you can fit a lot of nanodots onto a single computer chip.

Because nanodots are magnets, they have “north” and “south” poles (you could also say that the nanodots are either “on” or “off”). Similarly, computers store data in binary code – which is a series of 1s and 0s. So, imagine that a nanodot which is turned on = 1, and a nanodot that is turned off = 0. That’s one bit of data – no big deal. But, because you can cram billions of nanodots onto a single chip, suddenly it IS a big deal.

New research shows us that, using nanodots, you can create a chip that is one inch square and able to hold one billion pages of information (the library I was talking about). The next step will be to develop the computer hardware necessary to enable machines to readily interact with the chips. It’s only a matter of time.

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  1. The people that write for the blog (including myself) are all employees in NC State’s News Services office. We write about interesting research items that we run across during our daily work on campus.