3 TB of Data on a Standard CD?
We were alerted to an article on TechnologyReview.com today that talks about a Harvard research team that has piloted a way to bust out the wavelength limitations of traditional optical storage through the use of nanotechnology.... and who doesn't like news about nanobots?
The technology is geared towards making better use of EXISTING optical discs - meaning that the processes used to stamp and recreate the discs wouldn't necessarily be any different than they are today. They've accomplished their goal by fabricated a "nano antenna" which they put onto an OEM laser. According to the article it "focuses light to a much smaller spot size than is possible with even the best traditional lenses, potentially enabling more bits to be written onto an optical disc."
Since CDs currently have pits made with a wavelength of 780 nm, DVDs utilize 650 nm, and the new high definition discs reduce this to just 405 nm, it woudl take a pretty small wavelength shift to offer any significant improvement. How about 40 nanometers? Uh, yeah - we were blown away as well. At this pit size, you can cram 3 terabytes onto a traditional CD. That's a LOT of high definition movies!
Using the "nano antenna" approach vs. traditional optical methods has allowed the team to break through barriers once thought impossible to overcome with traditional technology (sound familiar?). The results look promising and propose yet [i]another[/i] reason why the new blu laser tech may not be the end-all for optical storage of high definition content...
According to a quote from the article, using a nano antenna is just one way to gain "super resolution smaller than the wavelength of light." But, the Harvard researchers work "is very good in the sense that they are doing optical experiments to back up their theory, while some papers are only in the realm of theory." The Harvard scientists, "just did it."
The Harvard team is exploring fabrication techniques that can further decrease the spot size to 20 nm and are playing with the conductors to see if varying the material can result in even better results.
To say that this is a potential leap forward in a practical, usable technology is an understatement.