To put it in perspective, a standard blank DVD can hold 4.7GB, while a dual-layer disk that most Hollywood movies use can hold twice that. An average Blu-ray single-layer disc can hold 25GB, while dual-layer discs can store 50GB. The Blu-ray Disk Association recently announced that there would be a new series of Blu-rays discs coming that could store up to 128GB of data per disc, something that has been hailed as a breakthrough in data storage. These new disk would be able to contain 25,000GB of data, or 25TB per disk.
A new synthetic material would coat the discs in a metal film. In darkness, the metal remains black and can conduct electricity. When struck by light, the material transforms into a brown semi-conductor. The light itself would act as an on-off switch.
The material is a new crystalline form of titanium oxide that Shin-ichi Ohkoshi, the lead researcher, described in an interview as a being “promising as a material for a next-generation optical storage device.”
Different colors reflect light differently, and each difference can be used to store new sets of information. The researchers have created the material in particles that are between 5 and 20 nanometers, or a five-billionth to 20-billionth of a meter in diameter. Using the smallest particle, the disks could hold over 1,000 times as much as a Blu-ray disc by reflecting light in different ways.
Assuming that the proper reading and writing equipment is also developed, the new synthetic metal could be a giant leap in optical storage. Surprisingly for such a leap in technology, neither cost nor availability would be an issue.
“You don’t have to worry about procuring rare metals. Titanium oxide is cheap and safe, already being used in many products ranging from face powder to white paint,” Ohkoshi said.
No word on when these new discs might reach the public, but Ohkoshi says that they will soon begin talking to private-sector companies about commercializing the technology.