Today, DVD media can typically hold about 5 GB of data, but a team of researchers in an Australian university believe to have discovered a way to increase that capacity by 2,000 times.
New research from the Centre for Micro-Photonics at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia has demonstrated the use of nanotechnology to create five-dimensional discs with the ability to hold a ton of information.
"We were able to show how nanostructured material can be incorporated onto a disc in order to increase data capacity, without increasing the physical size of the disc," explains Min Gu, one of the professors heading up the study.
Discs currently have three spatial dimensions, but using nanoparticles, the Swinburne researchers were able to introduce a spectral or colour dimension as well as a polarisation dimension. The colour dimension was created using gold nanorods that were inserted onto the disc's surface. Because nanoparticles react to light according to their shape, notes the researchers, information could be recorded in a range of different colour wavelengths on the same physical disc location. Currently, information is recorded to DVDs in a single-colour wavelength using a laser.
"These extra dimensions," adds Gu, "are the key to creating ultra-high capacity discs."
The second method used to increase disc capacity was polarization. When light waves were projected onto the disc, the direction of the electric field contained within them aligned with the gold nanorods, thus allowing researchers to record different layers of data at various angles.
"The polarisation can be rotated 360 degrees," says Dr. James Chon, who was also involved in the research. "So for example, we were able to record at zero degree polarisation. Then on top of that, we were able to record another layer of information at 90 degrees polarisation, without them interfering with each other."
Issues with the technology still remain, though, like the speed at which the discs can be written. One would imagine the speed it takes to access specific data from a disc, whether from a computer, DVD player, or other device, would be a concern as well. However, the team is confident that we could actually see such discs in the marketplace within the next five-to-10 years.
Aside from the obvious benefits in the business field, like medical services and finance, imagine being able to load your entire movie library onto one, single disc? Even with back-up copies, they'd easily fit inconspicuously within a bookshelf. Could this spell the end of the media server?