Schematic top view of the switching process that involves the two hydrogen atoms located in a cavity at the center of the molecule. Upon injection of a voltage pulse, the two hydrogen atoms change position, as indicated in the left-hand-side image.
IBM today announced two major scientific achievements in the field of nanotechnology that could one day lead to new kinds of devices and structures built from a few atoms or molecules. Such Lilliputian, atomic-scale devices might be used as future computer chips, storage devices, sensors and for applications nobody has imagined yet. The work will be unveiled tomorrow in two reports being published by the journal Science. In the first report, IBM scientists describe major progress in probing a property called magnetic anisotropy in individual atoms. This fundamental measurement has important technological consequences because it determines an atom’s ability to store information. Previously, nobody had been able to measure the magnetic anisotropy of a single atom.