Current technology sees pits and grooves imprinted onto a polycarbonate material and are read with a laser to create your bog standard CD or DVD. Advancements from CDs to DVDs to new blue laser optical formats use shorter wavelength lasers to read smaller marks, meaning you can fit more data onto a single disc. GE says this is all about to change. The company said Monday that it is abandoning the "pits and grooves" approach to storing data and instead is working on 3D volumetric holographic storage technology that will use the entire disc for storage as opposed to just the surface.
According to the New York Times, GE has been working on holographic storage technology for more than six years and a crucial challenge for the team, has been finding the materials and techniques so that smaller holograms reflect enough light for their data patterns to be detected and retrieved.
The NYT reports that a recent breakthrough by the team sees a 200-fold increase in the reflective power of their holograms, putting them at the bottom range of light reflections readable by current Blu-ray machines.
It all sounds really cool, but it also sounds really expensive. Apparently not. GE says that when Blu-ray was introduced it was roughly $1/GB. The company expects that when they are introduced (2011 or 2012), holographic discs using its technology will be less than 10 cents/GB, with that price set to fall in the future.