Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Next Generation of Hard Drives Could Be Made of Glass

The Telegraph (U.K.) has an intriguing article about research being done by British scientists on a technology similar to the "memory crystals" featured in the Superman movies.

Researchers at Southampton University used lasers to rearrange the atoms in pieces of glass, turning it into new type of computer memory.

They claim the glass memory is far more stable and resilient than current types of hard-drive memory, which have a limited lifespan of a couple of decades and are vulnerable to damage from high temperatures and moisture.

The glass memory can withstand temperatures of up to 1,800 degrees F, is unaffected by water and can last for thousands of years without losing information.

Information can be written, wiped and rewritten into the molecular structure of the glass using a laser, the scientists claim.

The process changes the way light travels through the glass, creating whirlpools of polarised light that can then be read in much the same way as data in optical fibres....

Martynas Beresna, lead researcher for the project at Southampton University's optoelectronics research centre, said they can currently store the equivalent of a whole Blu-ray Disc – up to 50GB of data – on a piece of glass no bigger than a mobile phone screen....

The recording process, which is done by focusing a laser to imprint tiny dots called "voxels" into the pure silica glass. the process makes the glass slightly opaque and polarises the light as it passes through. This can then be read using a optical detector.

The scientists, whose research is published in the scientific journal of Applied Physics Letters, are now working with a Lithuanian company Altechna to take the technology to market.

No comments: