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Melbourne, Australia – Oh, great. Just as we’ve all got used to Blu-ray – and paid for the kit – another storage disk has been developed with 2,000 times the capacity of an ordinary DVD. The researchers say they could take a few years to hit the video stores, but could have immediate applications in the financial, military and medical sectors.
For the first time researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Micro-Photonics have demonstrated how nanotechnology can enable the creation of ‘five dimensional’ discs with huge storage capacities.
“We were able to show how nanostructured material can be incorporated onto a disc in order to increase data capacity, without increasing the physical size of the disc,” said Professor Min Gu.
Discs currently have three spatial dimensions, but using nanoparticles the Swinburne researchers were able to introduce a spectral – or colour – dimension as well as a polarisation dimension.
“These extra dimensions are the key to creating ultra-high capacity discs,” Gu said.
To create the ‘colour dimension’ the researchers inserted gold nanorods onto a disc’s surface. Because nanoparticles react to light according to their shape, this allowed the researchers to record information in a range of different colour wavelengths on the same physical disc location.
This is a major improvement on current DVDs that are recorded in a single colour wavelength using a laser.
The researchers were also able to introduce an extra dimension onto the disc using polarisation. When they projected light waves onto the disc, the direction of the electric field contained within them aligned with the gold nanorods. This allowed the researchers to record different layers of information at different angles.
“The polarisation can be rotated 360 degrees,” Chon said. “So for example, we were able to record at zero degree polarisation. Then on top of that, we were able to record another layer of information at 90 degrees polarisation, without them interfering with each other.”
Some issues, such as the speed at which the discs can be written on, are yet to be resolved. However the researchers are confident the discs will be commercially available within five to ten years. However, they say, the disks could have immediate immediate applications in fields such as medical record storage and in the financial, military and security arenas.
The research is published in the scientific journal Nature.