Talk about storing data in the cloud. Scientists at the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Univ. of Maryland have taken this to a whole new level by demonstrating that they can store visual images within quite an ethereal memory device — a thin vapor of rubidium atoms. The effort may prove helpful in creating memory for quantum computers.
Their work builds on an approach developed at the Australian National Univ., where scientists showed that a rubidium vapor could be manipulated in interesting ways using magnetic fields and lasers. The vapor is contained in a small tube and magnetized, and a laser pulse made up of multiple light frequencies is fired through the tube. The energy level of each rubidium atom changes depending on which frequency strikes it, and these changes within the vapor become a sort of fingerprint of the pulse’s characteristics. If the field’s orientation is flipped, a second pulse fired through the vapor takes on the exact characteristics of the first pulse — in essence, a readout of the fingerprint.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/04/cloud-atoms-acts-optical-memory-device