Brace yourself for a new wave of hard disk sensors and more power efficient hard drives, thanks to the world’s smallest ever magnetic field sensor developed by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Institut de Physique et Chimie des Matériaux de Strasbourg (IPCMS).
The researchers showed that a single molecule of the compound H2-phthalocyanin, which is currently used as a blue dye in ball-point pens, can exhibits giant magneto-resistance when sandwiched between two magnetic, or spin polarized electrodes.
GMR is the phenomenon that we exploit in order to read data from our hard drives. The researchers suggest this breakthrough, GMR across a single molecule, could lead to much denser data storage.
Lead researcher Prof Wulf Wulfhekel of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany told The Engineer:
"If you want to make things very small, typically you use lithography, but it’s hard to get reliable structures. In principle, to manufacture identical objects you have to have atomic precision and no one can do it at the moment.
"But chemistry offers another approach — you can just synthesise molecules, they are all absolutely identical. The idea is to use these molecules as transistors, resistors and units of an electronic circuit."
The work is published in Nature Nanotechnology.