Billions of tiny mechanical levers could be used to store songs on future MP3 players and pictures on digital cameras.

As bizarre as the idea might sound, researchers at a Dutch company have already demonstrated that miniscule mechanical switches can be used to store data using less power than existing technologies and with greater reliability.

Nanomech memory, developed by Cavendish Kinetics in the Netherlands, stores data using thousands of electro-mechanical switches that are toggled up or down to represent either a one or zero as a binary bit. Each switch is a few microns long and less than a micron wide – roughly a hundred times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Existing computer memory typically stores data as an electrical or magnetic charge. Cavendish Kinetics claims Nanomech memory can read and write data using 100 times less power than such systems, and works up to 1000 times faster. It is also much more resilient to both temperature and radiation, the company claims.

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