Imagine putting 100 of your favorite movies on one DVD.
That's what a radical breakthrough in optical-storage technology promises, according to a report in the New York Times.
General Electric researchers working at a lab in upstate New York have figured out the proper combination of materials necessary for the Holy Grail of data storage — holographic "reading" and "writing."
Ordinary-looking 5-inch discs made with this method might be able to store up to 500 gigabytes of data — more than most computers' hard drives.
CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs essentially use only one dimension: Microscopic pits, and spaces without pits, representing data are arranged in a very long linear track that spirals around the center of a flat disc. A laser reads each pit and space, one after the other, and reassembles the data accordingly.
GE's holographic data storage adds two more dimensions to the information. Three-dimensional holograms, albeit very tiny ones, are placed in a disc's linear track.
The difficulty was getting the right combination of materials that were reflective enough to be "read" by a low-power laser, a combination that the GE researchers now say they've found.
"This could be the next generation of low-cost storage," Envisioneering analyst Richard Doherty told the Times.