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Table Salt Could Allow for 18 Terabyte Hard Drives

By - Source: Geek.com | B 41 comments

A team has discovered that, by using table salt, they can made hard drives even denser, possibly producing 6TB per hard drive platter.

Electron Microscopy images of 1.9 and 3.3 Terabit/inch2 densitiesElectron Microscopy images of 1.9 and 3.3 Terabit/inch2 densitiesDr Joel Yang at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) has discovered a way to increase the data density of a drive to 3.3 Terabit/inch2, meaning that it will be possible to manufacture hard drive platters offering 6 TB of storage. Surprisingly the secret ingredient in producing these high-capacity drives is sodium chloride, or rather, your common table salt.

"Conventional hard disks have randomly distributed nanoscopic magnetic grains - with a few tens of grains used to form one bit – that enable the latest hard disk models to hold up to 0.5 Terabit/in2 of information," IMRE explains in a press release. "The IMRE-led team used the bit-patterned media approach, where magnetic islands are patterned in a regular fashion, with each single island able to store one bit of information."

Manufacturers currently use tiny grains of around 7 to 8-nm in size deposited on the surface of storage media. A single bit of data is stored in a cluster of these grains and not in any single grain. However Dr. Yang managed to store the same amount of information on a single grain the size of 10-nm. Thus, replacing several 7-nm grains with one 10-nm grain saves space and allows for denser storage capacities.

In addition to the higher capacity, the IMRE also reveals that the new method can be added to existing lithography processes thanks to a secret ingredient: tablet salt.

"The secret of the research lies in the use of an extremely high-resolution e-beam lithography process that produces super fine nano-sized structures," IMRE reports. "Dr Yang discovered that by adding sodium chloride to a developer solution used in existing lithography processes, he was able to produce highly defined nanostructures down to 4.5-nm half pitch, without the need for expensive equipment upgrades."

Dr. Yang said that the salt-based method has achieved data-storage capability at 1.9 Terabit/in2, though bits of up to 3.3 Terabit/in2 densities were fabricated. Further research and development is aiming to achieve 10 Terabit/inch2 in the future, but don't expect drives using the salt-based process to appear for another two years if not more.

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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    _Cubase_ , October 18, 2011 1:59 PM
    Another would-be-if-it-could-be-maybe technology that, for the moment, should be taken with a grain of salt.
  • 14 Hide
    Thunderfox , October 18, 2011 2:24 PM
    Just think about all the... home movies... you could fit on there... yeah... so many home movies...
  • 14 Hide
    thearm , October 18, 2011 1:25 PM
    I can't wait until 2021 when these drives are available!
Other Comments
    Display all 41 comments.
  • 10 Hide
    billybobser , October 18, 2011 1:04 PM
    Wouldn't storing data over multiple grains enable greater data reliability, if 1 grain is wrong but 4 are right for example.
  • 11 Hide
    nikorr , October 18, 2011 1:24 PM
    In 10 years....
  • 14 Hide
    thearm , October 18, 2011 1:25 PM
    I can't wait until 2021 when these drives are available!
  • 7 Hide
    ansemx324 , October 18, 2011 1:26 PM
    Very true, but I don't think it would be less reliable than today's drives. From what I've gained from from this article, one bit of information is stored on several different grains, so if any one of those grains is messed up, then the data is messed up.
    Here the data is on one grain (so only 1 point of failure rather than several), so maybe its more reliable? That's my logic anyway...
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , October 18, 2011 1:27 PM
    Will it rust?
  • -3 Hide
    nikorr , October 18, 2011 1:29 PM
    ansemx324Very true, but I don't think it would be less reliable than today's drives. From what I've gained from from this article, one bit of information is stored on several different grains, so if any one of those grains is messed up, then the data is messed up.Here the data is on one grain (so only 1 point of failure rather than several), so maybe its more reliable? That's my logic anyway...

    In ten years u could have 24GB as well.
  • -5 Hide
    nikorr , October 18, 2011 1:30 PM
    In ten years u could have 24TB as well.
  • -3 Hide
    nikorr , October 18, 2011 1:31 PM
    dane1234Will it rust?

    U need to keep it away from the moose.
  • -4 Hide
    ansemx324 , October 18, 2011 1:49 PM
    nikorrU need to keep it away from the moose.


    And you* the keyboard AND mouse*.

    @dane1234, I appreciate the joke haha
  • 3 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , October 18, 2011 1:52 PM
    "In addition to the higher capacity, the IMRE also reveals that the new method can be added to existing lithography processes thanks to a secret ingredient: tablet salt."

    I knew iPads were good for something :) 
  • 17 Hide
    _Cubase_ , October 18, 2011 1:59 PM
    Another would-be-if-it-could-be-maybe technology that, for the moment, should be taken with a grain of salt.
  • 6 Hide
    Rizlla , October 18, 2011 2:11 PM
    In Ten years? By that time everyone will probably be using SSD drives, as their prices would have dropped a lot by then and their sizes increased.
  • 9 Hide
    rottingsheep , October 18, 2011 2:18 PM
    this will drive up the prices of salt!
  • 14 Hide
    Thunderfox , October 18, 2011 2:24 PM
    Just think about all the... home movies... you could fit on there... yeah... so many home movies...
  • 3 Hide
    dextermat , October 18, 2011 2:24 PM
    Nice, but they need to get HD's more reliable: whether it's SSD or not.

    because losing all that data would really sucks.
  • 2 Hide
    silverblue , October 18, 2011 2:25 PM
    rottingsheepthis will drive up the prices of salt!

    I doubt it. It's such a tiny amount on the grand scheme of things.
  • 3 Hide
    ravewulf , October 18, 2011 2:38 PM
    Good ol' NaCl :) 
  • 10 Hide
    jaysbob , October 18, 2011 2:46 PM
    somehow, someway, Apple is going to find a way to sue the pants off these people for patent infringement.
  • 1 Hide
    CoffeeDrinker , October 18, 2011 2:48 PM
    rottingsheepthis will drive up the prices of salt!



    Hehehehehe, Nice one dude. LMAO
  • 3 Hide
    hoof_hearted , October 18, 2011 3:37 PM
    Salt Lake City is the new Silicon Valley.

    As for the grains debate. I don't believe these grains are used in the discrete fashion being debated. I think it is more of an analog threshold type thing for the cluster/grain as a unit.
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