Data-storage – the next stage

CD-ROMS were a major leap in terms of data storage capacity, and DVD has taken that further, with a single disc capable of holding several gigabytes of information. Now electronics companies are looking to the next generation of storage devices.

By combining lasers that pulse 1000 trillion times per second (known as femtosecond lasers) with hole-burning optical storage techniques, researchers at Hirao Active Glass Project have developed a technology that could store 100 trillion bits of data in a cubic centimetre glass structure.

Having boosted data storage by photochemically burning holes which not only burned pits in the glass but burnt out light of different wavelengths, the team used a femtosecond laser to change the electrical state of minute particles of the rare-earth element samarium mixed into the glass.

To write data to the glass, the laser is pulsed whilst being moved vertically and horizontally about 1mm above the glass material. Samarium particles hit by the light change electrical state in a way that can be used to record binary information.

The team said its work shows that data bits could be stored at a density of one trillion bits per cubic centimetre.