Enhancing Hard Drives Using Table Salt
October 17, 2011

Enhancing Hard Drives Using Table Salt

Singapore-based scientists on Friday announced that they found an unusual way to increase the storage capacity of computer hard drives -- by using ordinary table salt.

According to a Sunday story published by the Telegraph, researchers at the Agency for Science Technology and Research teamed with the National University of Singapore and the Data Storage Institute to discover a new manufacturing process that uses sodium chloride to increase the density of those storage devices approximately six-times compared to current models.

In a statement, reprinted in a Friday AFP report, the researchers state they discovered that the process could "increase the data recording density of hard disks to 3.3 Terabits per square inch“¦ This means that a hard disk drive that holds 1 Terabyte (TB) of data today could, in the future, hold 6 TB of information in the same size using this new technology."

Their research, which focuses on arranging "bits" or units of information in neater patterns, thus allowing more data to be arranged in a set space, has been published in the journal Nanotechnology, as well as the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology B (JVSTB).

"It's like packing your clothes in your suitcase when you travel. The neater you pack them the more you can carry," the researchers said in their statement said.

In reality, it is a bit more complicated than that, however.

"The secret lies in the use of an extremely high-resolution e-beam lithography, which is the process by which fine nano-scale circuitry is created," Computerworld's Lucas Mearian explained in an October 14 article. "By adding sodium chloride (salt) to a developer solution used in lithography processes, the researchers were able to produce highly defined nanostructures that were as small as 4.5 nanometers, without the need for expensive equipment upgrades."

Joel Yang, the scientist credited with the discovery, told AFP that he expected that the tech industry will begin using the salt-production process by 2016, "when the current techniques run out of fuel and (hard drive manufacturers) need to find alternate methods" of upping a drive's data storage space.


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