The new molecules and layering technique have also allowed the research team to use just one layer of insulator molecules, which should make it easier to manufacture molecular memory. Previous iterations of the technology have used five or six layers of molecules, which have to be aligned with each other to work well, a step that adds cost.
In addition, the new developments have led to greater stability, so the whole system requires less cooling, Moodera said. Previous molecular memory devices in labs have had to be cooled to near zero Kelvin, or absolute zero, he said. The device built in this project can work at about zero Celsius, or the freezing point of water. That leap in temperature makes Moodera optimistic that with further refinement, such devices will eventually be able to meet the operating requirements of IT departments, which typically demand survival of data up to 100 Celsius, or the boiling point of water.
With enough funding, further research over the next few years should come up with new types of molecules -- the ones developed at IISER are fragments of graphene molecules -- and ways of dealing with these new types of molecules without dissolving them, because they can be more fragile than the elements used in making storage devices today, Moodera said.
In the meantime, today's time-honored hard disk drive design may yet yield more density than scientists have thought possible, he said. Demand is likely to drive exploration in all types of storage.
"When you see something, you find a solution for the problem," Moodera said.