Memory storing devices will surely continue their trend of shrinking, keeping with Moore's law as always. However, scientists at IBM have found a method for storing information inside of just a handful of atoms, I wonder if the law could still apply even at this scale.
Andreas Heinrich, an IBM researcher, has found that 12 atoms are sufficient to hold the information for one bit (a 0 or a 1), the smallest unit of memory storage needed by computer systems. Since 8 bits are needed to form a byte, 96 atoms could do the job that is currently done by millions of atoms in a modern hard disc drive. This means a byte is 100 times more dense than a current byte.
The effect that allows storage is called antiferromagnetism. Adjacent iron atoms are made to spin oppositely to each other, and this opposing spin negates the external magnetic field around the group of atoms. Heinrich found that less than 12 atoms were too unstable to maintain spin and store memory.
Heinrich achieved this using a scanning tunneling microscope in conditions near absolute zero. He admits that part of the challenge lies in developing a device that uses this type of atomic memory storage at room temperature where atoms vibrate much faster. This type of memory storage could prove to be vital for nano-mechanical systems to work efficiently.