August 29, 2009

Aussie Scientists Pack Massive Data Onto Single 5-D Discs

Aussies develop multi-terabyte optical storage…

Researchers at a University in Melbourne, Australia have come up with a “five dimensional” disc capable of storing 2,000 times more data than a conventional DVD.

That’s 10TB per DVD disc, in case you’re counting.

The research was conducted in Centre of Micro-Photonics at Swinburne University and was in the journal Nature.


Friday, May 22, 2009: For the first time, researchers from the University’s Centre for Micro-Photonics have demonstrated how nanotechnology can enable the creation of ‘five dimensional’ discs with huge storage capacities. Their findings point towards using nanoscopic particles to exponentially boost the amount of information stored on a single disc with a unique ‘five dimensional’ structure.

The discs are the same size as a conventional three dimensional existing DVDs.

This means that data – usually written in a typical three dimensional (x, y, z) fashion – acquired two more dimensions. So far this has already resulted in an optical disc sample capable of storing 1.6TB of data, but as development continues, researchers Min Gu, Peter Zijlstra and James Won expect storage capacity to reach a whopping 10TB.


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, one of the researchers on the team.


The research, carried out by Peter Zijlstra, Dr James Chon and Professor Min Gu was published in the scientific journal Nature. The Nature article describes how the researchers were able to use nanoscopic particles to exponentially increase the amount of information contained on a single disc.

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 fabricate the ‘color dimension’, gold nanorods are interleaved into the disc’s surface. The information can then be recorded in a range of different color wavelengths on the same physical disc location. This is possible due to a unique characteristic of the nanoparticles, which react differently to light depending on their shape.

This is a major improvement on current DVDs that are recorded in a single colour wavelength using a laser.

None of these techniques are actually new, just the fact that they were all applied at the same time. This brings about at least one major problem that the technology has to contend with, that is, recording speed. Current prototypes record about as fast as a glyph-carver in ancient Egypt, the researchers have implied.

Another problem such high-capacity media are going to have to confront is tied up with several related terms like robustness, reliability and longevity. At least initially, most people will want to have such large capacity physical media offer some assurance that they won’t self-destruct within merely five or fifteen years as most presently available CD and DVD discs are all too prone to do.

But we guess the scientists are working on first things first, thinking about how to do this before working out how to make people believe it’s worth entrusting lots of valuable data to it.

The discs are likely to have immediate applications in a range of fields. They would be valuable for storing extremely large medical files such as MRIs and could also provide a boon in the financial, military and security arenas.

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