May 24, 2010

New Disc Could Hold A Thousand Times More Data

The lead scientists of a Japanese research team said on Monday that they have found a material that could be used to make a lower-price super disc with data storage capacity thousands of times greater than a DVD.

According to Shin-ichi Ohkoshi, chemistry professor at the University of Tokyo, the material transforms from a black-color metal state that conducts electricity into a brown semiconductor when hit by light.

The material can switch back and forth between the metal and semiconductor states at room temperature when exposed to light, creating an effective on-off function for data storage.  The material is made from a new crystal form of titanium oxide.

It is "promising as a material for a next-generation optical storage device," Ohkoshi told AFP by telephone.

A material that changes color with light can be used in storage devices as colors can reflect differently, displaying different types of data.

Ohkoshi's team has successfully created the material in particles measuring five-to-20 nanometers in diameter.

The new device could hold over 1,000 times as much information as a Blu-ray disc if the smallest particle is used.

A single-layer Blu-ray disc holds as much as fives times the amount of data on a conventional DVD.

Ohkoshi said titanium oxide's market price is about one-hundreths of the rare element that is currently used in rewritable Blu-ray discs and DVDs.

"You don't have to worry about procuring rare metals. Titanium oxide is cheap and safe, already being used in many products ranging from face powder to white paint," the professor told AFP.

He said that it was not known when a disc with the material would be manufactured and put to practical use.  He also added that he would start talking with private-sector companies for commercialization.

The study was published in the advance online edition of Nature Chemistry.


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