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Atoms

— Electronics

World's smallest optical switch uses a single atom

The rapid and on-going development of micro-miniature optical electronic devices is helping to usher in a new era of photonic computers and light-based memories that promise super-fast processor speeds and ultra-secure communications. However, as these components are shrunk ever further, fundamental limits to their dimensions are dictated by the wavelength of light itself. Now researchers at ETH Zurich claim to have overcome this limitation by creating both the world's smallest optical switch using a single atom, and accompanying circuitry that appears to break the rules by being smaller than the wavelength of the light that passes through it.

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— Science

World's most precise clock only a second out every five billion years

Not satisfied with the accuracy of the "quantum logic clock" (which only gains or loses one second every 3.7 billion years), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and JILA have unveiled an even more precise timekeeper. The strontium lattice clock sets new standards for precision and stability, only gaining or losing one second about every five billion years. Read More
— Wearables

Bathys Hawaii unveils atomic wristwatch

With all the fuss over the recent influx of do-everything smartwatches, you would think that a new wristwatch that simply displays the time on an analog face wouldn't cause much of a stir. However, when that watch is described as "atomic" and is claimed to be "the world's most accurate wristwatch," people perk up and take notice. Kauai-based Bathys Hawaii Watch Company has just revealed its first prototype of such a watch, known as the Cesium 133. Read More
— Science

IBM creates world's smallest movie using individual atoms

Anyone who’s tried their hand at stop animation will know it’s an incredibly time consuming and delicate job. But spare a thought for scientists at IBM Almaden in California who have produced the world’s smallest stop animation movie by using a scanning tunneling microscope to move individual atoms. Rather than competing with Aardman or Pixar for a slice of the international box office, the film is intended to make the public aware of new technology that could increase computer memories far beyond what is possible today. Read More
— Science

World's smallest magnetic data storage unit created

If you’re impressed with how much data can be stored on your portable hard drive, well ... that’s nothing. Scientists have now created a functioning magnetic data storage unit that measures just 4 by 16 nanometers, uses 12 atoms per bit, and can store an entire byte (8 bits) on as little as 96 atoms – by contrast, a regular hard drive requires half a billion atoms for each byte. It was created by a team of scientists from IBM and the German Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL), which is a joint venture of the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY research center in Hamburg, the Max-Planck-Society and the University of Hamburg. Read More
— Science

CERN traps antimatter atoms for 1,000 seconds

Researchers involved in the ALPHA experiment at Switzerland’s CERN complex announced yesterday (June 5) that they have succeeded in using the facility's antiproton decelerator to trap antimatter atoms for 1,000 seconds – or just over 16 minutes. This was reportedly enough time to begin studying their properties in detail, which has been the goal of ALPHA since the project began in 2005. Read More
— Science

Thorium: A safer alternative for nuclear power generation?

The world's growing need for energy, the limits of our supply of fossil fuels and concern about the effects of carbon emissions on the environment have all prompted interest in the increased use of nuclear power. Yet the very word "nuclear" carries with it an association of fear. People are concerned about the waste produced by reactors, the possibility of catastrophic accidents as highlighted by recent events in Japan and the link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Yet what if there existed a means of nuclear power generation with which these risks were drastically reduced? Read More
— Mobile Technology

The Chip Scale Atomic Clock makes atomic time-keeping portable

Atomic clocks are one of those things that most of us have probably always thought of as being big, ultra-expensive, and therefore only obtainable by well-funded research institutes. While that may have been the case at one time, a team of researchers have recently developed an atomic clock that they say is one one-hundredth the size – and that uses one one-hundredth the power – of previous commercially-available products. It’s called the Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC), and it can be yours for about US$1,500 ... a little more than what you might pay for a regular clock, but not bad for one that varies by less than a millionth of a second per day. Read More
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