IBM Research: Trillion-Bit Data Storage Density

IBM researchers in Switzerland announced an amazing feat last week: data storage density of a trillion bits per square inch. The accomplishment--which boasts a storage density that is 20 times higher than the density of the densest magnetic storage available today--was made possible with innovative nanotechnology. The technology provides enough storage to store 25 million printed textbook pages on a postage-stamp-size surface. IBM developed the technology in its "Millipede" research project.

In some respects, Millipede is a blast from the past. Taking a cue from the data-processing punch cards developed more than 110 years ago, Millipede uses thousands of nano-sharp tips to punch indentations into a thin plastic film. The big difference is that the nanotechnology is rewritable and has the potential to store more than three billion bits of data in the space occupied by just one bit in a standard punch card.

The demonstration in Switzerland used a single "nano-tip" that was only 10 nanometers (one millionth of a millimeter) in diameter. Each mark was 50,000 times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. IBM has proven the concept with an experimental setup using more than 1000 tips, but the research team hopes to build a prototype by next year that deploys more than 4000 tips working simultaneously over a 7 mm-square field. The research will help to greatly expand storage capacity, including enabling high-capacity data-storage systems for media that's similar to current flash memory. You can read more about the technology at the following URLs:

http://domino.research.ibm.com/Comm/bios.nsf/pages/millipede.html

http://www.ibm.com/research

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