Holographic Memory Film Thinner Than Human Hair Could Store 1,000 DVDs
As humanity creates more and more digital information, we’ll need better ways to store it. That’s why newly-developed nanoparticle-based films may be so critical. They’re over 80 times thinner than a human hair and could create materials that can holographically archive at least 1,000 times more data than a DVD in a 10-by-10-centimetre piece of film.
“In the future, these new films could be incorporated into a tiny storage chip that records 3D colour information that could later be viewed as a 3D hologram with realistic detail,” says Shencheng Fu, who led researchers from Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China in a press statement. “Because the storage medium is environmentally stable, the device could be used outside or even brought into the harsh radiation conditions of outer space.”
Not only can the films hold tremendous amounts of data, they can also retrieve that data at the speeds of 1 gigabyte per second. Most current USB 3.0 drives, for example, max out at 100 megabytes per second.
Holographic data storage is the process of using lasers to create and read a 3D holographic recreation of data in a material. Lasers can record and read millions of bits at once, give them huge speed advantages over magnetic storage systems typically seen today. It’s not widespread yet, but companies ranging from Hitachi to Nintendo have experimented with it.
There have been potential problems with holographic data storage, however, including the wrinkle that UV light has been shown to be able to corrupt and erase data stored by previous experimental holographic methods. Testing showed that this film, a mere 620 nanometers thick, was able to record efficiently and with a degree of high stability around UV light. The next step is attempting to use the films outside.
It’s still a while away from being sold in stores, given how the holographic memory would also need the development of high-efficiency 3D image reconstruction techniques. One step at a time.