The researchers encoded the letters “S” and “U” (as in Stanford University) within the interference patterns formed by quantum electron waves on the surface of a sliver of copper. The wave patterns even project a tiny hologram of the data, which can be viewed with a powerful microscope.
“How densely can you encode information on a computer chip?” said Hari Manoharan the assistant professor of physics who directed the work of physics graduate student Chris Moon and other researchers. “The assumption has been that basically the ultimate limit is when one atom represents one bit, and then there’s no more room—in other words it’s impossible to scale down below the level of atoms. But in this experiment we’ve stored some 35 bits per electron to encode each letter. So one bit per atom is no longer the limit for information density.”
All you need is a few billion other atoms