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GE talks up 500GB-per-disc optical storage tech

Micro-holographics equal massive density discs

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General Electric (GE) has demonstrated a storage technology with the potential for allowing 500GB of data to be written onto a single DVD-sized disc.

GE hailed its technology – known as micro-holographic storage – as a “next generation optical storage” technology. It added that the technology could see individual discs able to hold the same amount of data as 20 single-layer Blu-ray Discs.

Data is only written to the read surface of DVDs and BDs, but holographic storage uses the disc’s entire volume by creating 3D patterns that represent bits of information.

GE hasn’t actually created a 500GB micro-holographic disc yet. The firm’s boffins recorded micro-holographic marks with nearly one per cent reflectivity and a diameter of roughly one micron – one millionth of a metre — in order to demonstrate the basic technology.

Based on this achievement, GE’s boffins are confident that its scaled down marks would have sufficient reflectivity to enable 500GB to be written onto a disc.

GE has worked on holographic storage for over six years, but its micro-holographic storage breakthrough differs from traditional holographic storage by using smaller and less complex holograms, but which are nonetheless as reflective as their larger counterparts.

Good reflectivity is key: it's what allows the data-storing points within the 3D hologram to be read.

The level of reflectivity the GE team achieved is close to the range specified by the BD standard, paving the way, perhaps, for micro-holographic players also able to read CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.

GE is initially developing micro-holographic storage technology for commercial use, but says that consumer development will follow. ®

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