Hard Drives With Frickin' Laser Beams Attached To Their Heads

laserdriveAn egghead at Raboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands’ third biggest party school) has published a paper describing a method of using dynamic, polarized light to write and retrieve hard drive data at blazingly fast speeds – up to 100x faster than conventional hard drive speeds.

Conventional hard drives use magnets to read and write data. This new method would use lasers to write data to magnetic hard drives, eschewing the need to develop a radically different storage technology.

One current roadblock is the fact that laser beam’s footprint is about 5 microns wide, much larger than other data tranferral methods. Daniel Stanciu (the aforementioned egghead) claims that they should be able to reduce the laser’s footprint to about 10 nanometers within a decade.

All the jargon aside, what does this mean for you as a consumer? A different egghead, Julius Hohlfeld of Seagate Research, says…

“This is one of the most exciting stories in magnetics. Lots of other researchers have tried to employ polarized laser light to write data but everyone failed because the magnetic alloys they used for the storage medium did not work. But the disk made of gadolinium, iron, and cobalt that Stanciu’s team used has succeeded. The next challenge will be to find a relatively cheap laser technology that can fire pulses lasting less than 100 femtoseconds.”

Long story, short: in a decade, you might have a super fast hard drive. Exciting indeed!

Lighting a Fire Under Hard Drives [ScienceMag.org]