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IBM research promises 5-fold data density boost

Cantilevered nanotech clever stuff

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IBM's nanotechnology research means that someday there will be storage media with data density of five times the current theoretical limits for magnetic storage media, the company says.

Building on its Zurich Lab's Nobel prize-winning work, the company has developed a comb-like cantilever, made using standard chip fab equipment. It is used to etch tiny ones and zeros into a soft polymer. These sub micron scratches represent stored data bits.

In co-operation with its Almden research group in San Jose, IBM has already demonstrated a nanotechnology disk armed with a single bit cantilever that streams data at 10 Mbps. Because many cantilever tips can be read simultaneously it should be possible, with a cantilever with thousands of teeth rather than one, to reach data transfer rates of tens of Gbps.

In theory, this method of data storage could smash the theoretical density limit for magnetic media by an astonishing five times.

The company has also demoed a 25-tooth cantilever, arranged as a five by five array. It is currently building a 1,024 tooth version as a 32 by 32 array which fits in three square millimetres. ®

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