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Nano-glass Could Be the Next Thing in Computer Memory Storage

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new kind of nano-glass memory storage that stores data in glass lenses that can read with light. It works a little something like this: Lasers can be used to etch nano-voxels (volumetric or 3D pixels) onto the glass storage disk. This etching alters the way light beams through the lens and the resulting light patterns can be read much in the same way optical fibers are.

One of the main innovations here is scale. When you think of pixels on your screen, they’re tiny, but you can still see them if you look closely enough, even if you have to zoom in a little bit. These laser-engraved voxels, on the other hand, are molecular in size. The plains at which the voxels are embedded can be measured in tens of nanometers, or in layman’s terms, crazy thin plains. Naturally, this makes for ultra-compact data storage.

That’s not all either: While the idea for this kind of data storage isn’t completely new, this particular way of handling it is way cheaper than any previous method. The press release states that this kind of storage had only previously been possible using liquid crystal that cost in the neighborhood of £20,000 (about $33,000). Obviously, glass is significantly cheaper.

According to the press release, the benefits of this new nano-glass include:

…more precise laser material processing, optical manipulation of atom-sized objects, ultra-high resolution imaging and potentially, table-top particle accelerators.

What use you might have for table-top particle accelerators is beyond me, but that probably has to do with the fact that I’m not a physicist. Regardless, all of these things sound like they could be mighty useful to the kind of people who know what those things are. To me, it’s a glass minidisc, but that’s still pretty cool.

(via Engadget)

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