While silicon-based technology may be approaching a size limit that will halt miniaturization, other, more advanced technologies are pushing to new boundaries. Researchers at Kiel University have successfully switched the magnetic state of a single molecule. This shows it is possible to use molecules for data storage using modern technology and spintronics.
The researchers used a scanning tunneling electron microscope to flip the spin state of individual molecules. These microscopes have been in use since the 1980s but this is the first time a team has used one like this. One of the things this microscope allowed the researchers to do is affect specific molecules within a dense material, with other molecules surrounding the targets.
Of course an electron microscope is not something that can be feasibly integrated into computers for data storage. The next step for the researchers is to devise a way to similarly flip molecules but using photons instead of electrons.