Progress in silicon based storage continues, in spite of having reached, basically, the limits in CMOS technology (we are at 10nm and any further shrinking is facing huge technological hurdles and, more important, skyrocketing cost) by layering silicon over silicon creating 3D structures. This will keep increasing storage capacity for a while but further progress have to be searched in alternative materials.
Two years ago I posted a news on skyrmions, ghostly quantum rings that occur at the surface of atoms when they are kept at very low temperatures. These rings are quite stable and it was speculated that they could be used to store “bits”. However keeping atoms at such extremely low temperature is complicated, and costly. Researchers at NIST, two years ago found a way to create skyrmions at ambient temperature. Still at that time there was no idea on how they could be practically used as a storage medium.
Now a research team at MIT, led by Geoffrey Beach, has published a paper reporting the discovery of a way to create skyrmions in specific locations on a metallic disc. This opens the door to actually create a storage media based on skyrmions. In turns these would allow increasing current storage density by 3 orders of magnitude (1000x).
In two years we have moved from an esoteric concept to the demonstration of its applicability. We are still far, however, from having an industrial solution. Yet, if we wait two more years… who knows.