Blu-ray and HD DVD have pushed the limits of optical storage further than anyone thought possible. But a new technology has emerged which makes Blu-ray's 50GB capacity look tiny. Mempile in Israel says it's able to fit an incredible 1TB of data onto one "TeraDisc" which is the same size as CDs and DVDs. That's 20 times the capacity of a maxed-out dual-layer Blu-ray disc.
The incredible capacity achieved using this new technology is made possible by employing 200 5GB layers, each one only five microns apart. The discs are completely transparent to the red lasers which are used in the associated recorder.
Prototypes have already been made to store up to 800GB of data, and Mempile says it will crack the 1TB barrier before moving on to build 5TB blue laser disks.
Dr Beth Erez, Mempile's Chief Marketing Officer says that the first 1TB disks have a lifespan of 50 years and could be on the shelves in two to three years.
Highest capacity discs ever
"The TeraDisc is made of a material which is highly responsive to two-photon writing and reading. This allows us to write anywhere in that we can focus a red laser onto the disc, e.g. multiple layers," Dr. Erez told TFOT.info.
"However, many other properties of the material have to be optimised to allow this to work properly. Especially the written points, and written layers have to remain transparent after writing, without which it would be very difficult for the reading process to see the 200th layer through 199 written, non-transparent layers.
"When a red laser is focused to a small spot inside the TeraDisc, we can choose if we probe the state of this material (reading , low power) or alter it (writing at higher power). This is very similar to the way a regular CDR works, except for the fact that this is now done in 3D," she said.
It's hard to imagine that a disc format not invented by one of the world's big technology firms could become a future industry standard. But it's perfectly conceivable that these discs might one day be used in libraries to archive digital copies of books and so forth.
On a 1TB disc, you could store:
- 212 DVD-quality movies
- 250,000 MP3 files
- 1,000,000 large Word documents