New Technique Enables A Petabyte Of Data On A Single Disc

Two-photon photoactivator/photoinhibitor allows fabrication of polymer structures one hundred times smaller than the optical wavelength used

It seems the optical disc is not quite dead yet. A research team headed by Prof. Min Gu of Swinburne University of Technology has developed a new data storage method to overcome a fundamental law of optical science that could lead to faster and more energy-efficient optical computing by putting a petabyte(1000 terabytes) of information on a DVD-sized polymer disk.

It would allow storage of  a Petabyte of data on a single disc that is enough to store 50,000 high definition movies.

“The new technique produces a focal spot that is 1 ten thousandth of a human hair, enabling more data to be written to disc,” Director of the Centre for Micro-Photonics at Swinburne, Professor Min Gu said.

Professor Gu is a Laureate Fellow of the Australian Research Council.

Illustration of the combined illumination of the photoactivator and photoinhibitor lasers in the new recording technology 

The team – Professor Gu, PhD student Zongsong Gan and Dr Yaoyu Cao from the Centre for Micro-Photonics, and Professor Richard Evans from CSIRO – has developed a breakthrough technique that enables three-dimensional optical beam lithography at nine nanometres. (The head of a pin is one million nanometres.)

This huge advance in storage capability  was made possible by reducing the size of the burned areas of the disc.  Reducing the size of the burned pits in optical media has been difficult, due to the nature of light itself, and the limits of the width of light beams.  But these researchers have combined two different light beams into one mechanism, and reduced the size of the effective burning area.  The focal spot of this combined laser is nine nanometers, or one ten thousandth the diameter of a human hair.

Apparatus used to perform dual light beam writing and reading

“Optical beam lithography is the ultimate approach to 3D nanofabrication,” Professor Gu said.

3D nanofabrication

“However, the diffraction nature of light prevents us from achieving nanometre resolution in a single-beam optical beam lithography system.”
Professor Gu said by using a second donut-shaped beam to inhibit the photopolymerisation triggered by the writing beam in the donut ring, two-beam optical beam lithography can break the limit defined by the diffraction spot size of the two focused beams.
He said the key to 3D deep sub-diffraction optical beam lithography was the development with CSIRO of a unique two-photon absorption resin.
“This enabled a two-channel chemical reaction associated with the polymerisation and its counterpart of inhibited polymerisation, respectively, which eventually attributed to build mechanically robust nanostructures.  Thus, the development of the vertical integration of integrated circuits, leading to ultra-fast optical information signal processors, becomes possible in the near future,” Professor Gu said.

This is a goal of the Centre for Excellence for Ultrahigh-bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems, funded by the Australian Research Council.
“Worldwide generated information doubles every two years. This breakthrough could lead to reduced cost and reduced energy consumption in data storage,” Professor Gu said.

Comparison between the optical dimensions of data storage on present optical storage media 

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Write by: RC - Monday, July 8, 2013

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