A new Center for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Photonic Integration for Advanced Data Storage has been set up with a total of £8.1 million funding to carry out research in the field of photonics.
Two universities, University of Glasgow in Scotland and Queen's University of Belfast (QUB) in Northern Ireland, will collaborate with a number of companies including storage behemoth Seagate.
The initial aim of the center will be to train 50 PhD students to work on how to bring photonics to the wider industry with a clear focus on storage demand which is forecasted to rise exponentially thanks to big data.
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Of particular interest will be applications that can boost the capacity of HDD. Recent technologies like shingles or Helium have allowed hard drives to reach up to 6TB (or 1TB per 3.5-inch platter).
The real breakthrough could come thanks to HAMR (heat-assisted magnetic recording) which uses light to raise the temperature of a tiny area of the platter and requires photonics components to be integrated.
Photonics is also a massive area of investment in computing in general, from displays, interconnectors, processors and even data transfer.