Rotating Molecule Could Store Data

Being able to rotate a molecule of oxygen on command could lead to a new concept of data storage, say scientists at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. Working with a "homemade" scanning tunneling microscope, the researchers applied bursts of a tiny electric current to an oxygen molecule and caused it to rotate among three orientations spaced 120 degrees apart. The ability to set the molecule in a particular position enables the storage of information, the researchers explain. If the voltage pulse is not stopped, the molecule continues to rotate between the three orientations, turning like a tiny motor, researchers say.

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