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Will magnetic switching by light keep storage vendors spinning?

Circularly polarised lasers - the new magnetism

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What's next?

For commercialisation to happen a data storage manufacturer must take this technology up and use it. Isn't flash memory a better bet? Stanciu reckons a flash drive would not be as fast, as they operate at 2-3Gbit/s and, the implication is, a laser hard drive could go faster than flash memory.

Stanciu said: "Initially, I think this technology can be integrated within an HDD. (It) will be easy and cheaper to do this since the new (coming) HDD based on Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording will have a laser integrated in the writing/reading head, and used for heating the magnetic disk (for higher storage density)."

"Otherwise I think that now with the all-optical switching available we can not only transfer information by light but also store. The fact that you can use light to switch the magnet might indeed give access to new storage techniques other than spinning platters of hard disk drives."

If the hard drive was replaced by static media then there is a great big problem.

As you don't have a read/write head hovering above a moving media surface then you need a read/write head moving over a static media surface. Moving such a head in two dimensions to cover the recording medium's surface area at the speed and accuracy required would be horribly difficult.

The alternative is to use a battery of read heads - perhaps enough of them so that you only move them in one dimension. Naturally the expense of the system increases rapidly as you do this.

Stancius thinks: "You might think of storage techniques such as PROBE (a lot of heads - plasmon antenna), a holographic storage or even a storage using instead of a moving head, a moving mirror!?"

The ultimate idea would be to have one read/write head per recording bit, which is pretty much the DataSlide idea (PowerPoint deck download). That would mean a recording surface oscillating under a reading/writing surface using a pizzo-electric effect.

Is there any interest inside Seagate in Stanciu's discovery? "There is a strong interest from the Seagate side. In fact I am currently writing a paper on this subject with Dr. J. Hohlfeld and Dr. A. Rebei from Seagate Research."

We are, Stanciu reckons, at least five years from commercialisation. It's more likely to be well in excess of five years and is not an at all dependable outcome. What we have here is terrifically interesting potential technology generating a lot of interest.

Stanciu said: "What is clear is that the interest in this field is growing fast; e.g. storage institutes are now working on all-optical switching." Who knows what might eventually emerge? ®

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