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Nanotech research could fit 10 trillion bits of data onto disk the size of a quarter

Laura June Dziuban
February 20, 2009
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Two researchers, Ting Xu and Thomas Russell, are in the midst of developing some potentially sweet nanotech that could allow storage of around 10.5 terabits (or 10 trillion bits) of data on a space the size of a quarter. They're currently working on the technique, which starts with a sliced crystal (sapphire or silicon) sliced at a jagged angle, which is then heated to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit which causes the crystal to reorganize itself into a sawtooth pattern at three nanometer angles. The crystal is then sprayed with a custom polymer, dried, and treated again with a different solvent, after which the polymer then settles into a hexagonal pattern on the surface of the crystal. Sound complicated? Well, it is, and all the kinks aren't quite work out, but the technique essentially provides a path to creating a self-assembling disk with far more storage capacity than anything currently available. The current state of the research will be detailed in the upcoming issue of Science magazine. We'll believe it when we see it, but keep up the good work, guys!

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