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Insane Storage: Store 10 TB in a Quarter

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 29 comments

A breakthrough in storage technology by researchers brings capability of packing the contents of roughly 250 DVDs onto a disk the size of a quarter.

The new storage technique involves ‘self-assembly’ properties of chemically dissimilar polymer chains to array themselves into extremely dense, yet perfectly regular formations within cell sizes as small as three nanometers according to Ting Xu of the University of California at Berkeley and co-lead investigator Thomas Russell of UMass Amherst.

In theory, three-nanometer domains could create a storage density of 10 terabytes per square inch. When compared to the record 803 gigabytes per square inch achieved in rarified testing of perpendicular magnetic recording at TDK’s labs, the new technique beats that by nearly 12.5 times over.

Xu and Russell’s nanoscale arrays may also prove to be useful in circuit design as the self-assembling-polymer method has the advantage of not relying on typical photolithography technology that is commonly used for circuit design now.

Quoting Ting Xu :

“The challenge with photolithography is that it is rapidly approaching the resolution limits of light. In our approach, we shifted away from this ‘top down’ method of producing smaller features and instead utilized advantages of a ‘bottom up’ approach.”

Xu has also mentioned that their technique is more environmentally friendly than photolithography since it does not depend on harsh chemicals and acids. However, this new approach to extreme storage densities is not doing us any good sitting in a lab, but according to Xu, “The beauty of the method we developed is that it takes from processes already in use in the industry, so it will be very easy to incorporate into the production lines with little cost.”

If you are interested in reading a far more in-depth explanation of this new storage technology, the University of California has papers available here.

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  • 1 Hide
    Dekasav , February 25, 2009 8:04 PM
    Oooo. That's shiny, can't wait for this technology to show up in retail products a few years from now.
  • 2 Hide
    gwolfman , February 25, 2009 8:06 PM
    Hook it up! A thumb drive would allow you to carry all the data you could want (for not at least) and boot multiple OSes directly from there and store all your data with you wherever you go! Just plug in a USB/eSATA port and away you go! Weeeeeee!
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 25, 2009 8:06 PM
    It seems like there are new storage technologies coming out everyday. Can't they just pick one and run with it? ;-)
  • 0 Hide
    gwolfman , February 25, 2009 8:06 PM
    gwolfmanHook it up! A thumb drive would allow you to carry all the data you could want (for not at least) and boot multiple OSes directly from there and store all your data with you wherever you go! Just plug in a USB/eSATA port and away you go! Weeeeeee!

    I meant for "now" at least....
  • 0 Hide
    captaincharisma , February 25, 2009 8:10 PM
    well you know businesses they try to make everything smaller and hold more data at the same time
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , February 25, 2009 8:16 PM
    How do you recall data stored at 3nm? We are talking wavelengths well-below ultra-violet to get that kinda resolution. It took them how long just to create HD-DVD and BluRay? Probably not going to see this technology in even a decade.
  • 4 Hide
    Hatecrime69 , February 25, 2009 8:16 PM
    Just imagine that guy's pr0n stash now
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 25, 2009 8:18 PM
    If it's so easy to "incorporate into production lines" then why can't they have this technology deployed by the end of the year?
  • 0 Hide
    StupidRabbit , February 25, 2009 8:24 PM
    panetrezIt seems like there are new storage technologies coming out everyday. Can't they just pick one and run with it? ;-)

    now that you mention it.. all those manufacturers switched to making ssd disks and now they come up with this.. and if it proves to be as easy to make as they say, then this is probably the future of storage. we shall see, we shall see
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 25, 2009 8:24 PM
    I remember reading about these techniques 2 years ago... what have they done to improve utilizing it?
  • -1 Hide
    Tindytim , February 25, 2009 9:10 PM
    I've read about technologies like this 6 years ago. None of them have come to fruition.
  • -9 Hide
    A Stoner , February 25, 2009 9:24 PM
    You know, it almost made me cry, the way he described how his new idea will save the world from harsh chemicals and acids. In other news, all harsh environment destroying chemicals have neutralizers and are not wontonly thrown out the kitchen window or down the drain. It just happens to sound like the person is such a great steward of the environment. In reality he is nothing more than a peice of shit media slut.
  • 2 Hide
    coopchennick , February 26, 2009 12:44 AM
    ... I was going to give you a thumbs up until you got all militant and started name calling
  • 0 Hide
    seatrotter , February 26, 2009 2:20 AM

    Let's say this will be relatively cheap to produce and sell, and will be available in < 5 years to consumers (yes, consumers), how are the people/companies involved going to screw this one up? Let's not forget the media industries: R*AA and M*AA. How are they going to wreck it so that it won't be available to consumers (do you think they'll allow you to have a big "pirate chest" to store all of the things you "stole"; to them everyone is pirate, remember?)?

    Anyone remember Fluorescent Multilayer Disc? Yep, they had a storage media that easily scales to Terabytes and rewritable to begin with (as opposed to traditional optical media w/c are readonly first, then made rewritable); not to mention very scratch-resistant. What happened? On one of their demo, it was revealed that they weren't using their tech (instead using, I think, a harddrive) for playback. It was a scandal. Did it mean the tech didn't work? No. But they faced financial problems due to it, still. Where is the tech now? On market, though NOT on consumer market. Such a waste of tech; out of reach of the consumer.

  • 0 Hide
    tntom , February 26, 2009 2:43 AM
    Still not the storage density of a strand of DNA. Which can both store and compute but hopefully it is not 25 yrs out either.
  • 3 Hide
    descendency , February 26, 2009 3:00 AM
    Now if they could talk about the 10TBs of storage FOR a quarter.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2009 3:22 AM
    How is the data read? it seems pretty impossible for a physical medium, but they didn't mention anything about a cool solid state reader. If this tech is:
    1) Low power
    2) Cheap in R&D left
    3) Easily and continuously re-writable
    4) Easily and continuously re-readable
    5) Not fucked up during launch

    Then it seems pretty epic. Would like to track future progress.
  • 1 Hide
    chris312 , February 26, 2009 4:10 AM
    A dual-layer DVD is about 8GB. 10TB could hold about 1250 DVDs, not 250. Western Digital's 2TB drive could handle 250 DVDs without additional compression.
  • 0 Hide
    hustler539 , February 26, 2009 8:42 AM
    according to, In theory,

    The article writer is correct when he states this does us no good if it's just sitting in a lab. Give us an actual product.
  • 0 Hide
    bin1127 , February 26, 2009 8:47 AM
    Only 10 years to burn 1 disc.
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