Yes, there is a slow transition to more flash memory-based products, but hard drives are still very much an integral part of our digital lifestyles. And we want to be able to store more data without having to increase the physical size of our drives. As it turns out, all we may need is a pinch of salt.
Apparently, researchers in Singapore have come up with a solution wherein hard drives can effectively gain a six-fold increase in storage density. What this means it that you may soon have a 3TB drive on the same size platter as your existing 500GB. Better still, your 1TB could be replaced with a 6TB drive without having to get any bigger physically.
The way that existing hard drives work is that randomly distributed nanoscopic grains are spread out over the spinning magnetic platters. These get into disorganized clumps of ten, each of which form one bit of data. With the new idea, quarterbacked by Joel Yang from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore, larger grains in regular patterns are used instead. This is more organized, just like when you are “packing your clothes in your suitcae.”
Fine nano-scale structures are produced through an e-beam lithography process. Coupled with the addition of regular old sodium chloride, you can get nanostructures with a much higher resolution. The net result? More density and, thus, more capacity on the same size platter. We’re at early stages right now, but this could bode well for our increasingly beyond HD lifestyles.