The ability of the scanning tunnelling microscope to manipulate single atoms and molecules has allowed a single bit of information to be represented by a single atom or molecule. Although such information densities remain far beyond the reach of real-world devices, it has been assumed that the finite spacing between atoms in condensed-matter systems sets a rigid upper limit on information density. Here, we show that it is possible to exceed this limit with a holographic method that is based on electron wavefunctions rather than free-space optical waves. Scanning tunnelling microscopy and holograms comprised of individually manipulated molecules are used to create and detect electronically projected objects with features as small as ∼0.3 nm, and to achieve information densities in excess of 20 bits nm−2. Our electronic quantum encoding scheme involves placing tens of bits of information into a single fermionic state.
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This work was supported by US Office of Naval Research (YIP/PECASE N00014-02-1-0351), US National Science Foundation (CAREER DMR-0135122 & DMR-0804402), US Department of Energy (DE-AC02-76SF00515) and the Stanford-IBM Center for Probing the Nanoscale. The authors acknowledge the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate fellowship programme (C.R.M. and B.K.F.) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (H.C.M.) for fellowship support. We thank L. Bozano, M. Brongersma, G. Burr, D. Eigler, G. Fiete, J. Kirtley, P. Kolchin, S. Harris, E. Heller, R. McGorty, V. Manoharan, J. Moon, J. Randel, S.-H. Song and Y. Yamamoto for discussions.
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Moon, C., Mattos, L., Foster, B. et al. Quantum holographic encoding in a two-dimensional electron gas. Nature Nanotech 4, 167–172 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2008.415
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