IBM scientists have made what they call “breakthroughs” in nanotechnology that could lead to storage and computing at a nano scale.

Their findings were reported Friday in two papers published in the journal Science.

One report focuses on (NYSE: ) researchers’ ability to measure the ability of an atom to store information based on a property called “magnetic anisotropy.” Such a measurement of a single atom had not been achieved before, according to IBM.

The advance could lead to major advances in data storage, IBM added.

“With further work, it may be possible to build structures consisting of small clusters of atoms, or even individual atoms, that could reliably store magnetic information,” IBM reported. “Such a storage capability would enable nearly 30,000 feature-length movies or the entire contents of YouTube – millions of videos estimated to be more than 1,000 trillion bits of data – to fit in a device the size of an iPod. Perhaps more importantly, the breakthrough could lead to new kinds of structures and devices that are so small they could be applied to entire new fields and disciplines beyond traditional computing.”

The other report focuses on development of the first single-molecule switch that could lead to the building of computing elements at a molecular scale, IBM said. The switch advance could lead to what IBM called “vastly smaller, faster” computer chips that also consume less energy.