Researchers from the University of New Hampshire in the US have uncovered the technology that, they say, is required to develop a computer the size of a pinhead.
The researchers found that using an easily made combination of materials might be the way to offer a more stable environment for smaller and safer data storage, something which would ultimately lead to miniature computers.
"We're really optimistic about the possibilities," said the university's assistant professor of physics, Jiadong Zang.
"There is a push in the computer industry towards smaller and more powerful storage, yet current combinations of materials can create volatile situations, where data can be lost once the device is turned off.
"Our research points to this new combination as a much safer option. We're excited that our findings might have the potential to change the landscape of information technology."
The study, which has been published in the journal Science Advances, outlines the scientists' proposed combination that allows for a more stable perpendicular anisotropic energy (PMA), the key driving component in a computer's RAM or data storage.
The material would be made up of ultrathin films, known as Fe monolayers, grown on top of non-magnetic substances, in this case 'X' nitride substrate, where X could be boron, gallium, aluminum or indium.
According to the research, this combination indicated that anisotropic energy would increase by fifty times, from 1 meV to 50 meV, enabling larger amounts of data to be stored in smaller environments.
Zang said that in an era dependent on extremely large amounts of information, from laptops to phones, there is a huge demand for more efficient devices and creating smaller processors and storage units is an important step, not only for size but for data safety.
"There is a huge movement to switch to magnetic random access memory for storage in computers because it is more stable," Zang explained.
"Not only is data storage safer, but there is also less radiation emitted from the device.
"Our calculations and material combination opens the door to possibilities for much smaller computers for everything from basic data storage to traveling on space missions.
"Imagine launching a rocket with a computer the size of a pin head - it not only saves space but also a lot of fuel."
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