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GE's new holographic storage burns 500GB discs at the speed of a Blu-ray

GE's new holographic storage burns 500GB discs at the speed of a Blu-ray
Richard Lawler
Richard Lawler|@Rjcc|July 20, 2011 10:38 PM
Holographic disc storage may not have worked out so well for InPhase, but the folks at General Electric are still trying to make HVD work. Their latest breakthrough, shown off today at an IEEE symposium in Hawaii, is a new micro-holographic material which is 100x more sensitive than its predecessor and ups recording speed to that of Blu-ray discs. In the two years since we saw it last some of the hyperbole has apparently been lost -- no claims of "two to four years left for Blu-ray" this time around -- but manager Peter Lorraine still thinks the DVD-sized discs have a future in archival and consumer systems. That's getting tougher to imagine in a world with FiOS and Netflix streaming, but if there is ever another disc format you may be looking at it right now.
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20 July 2011
GE Breakthrough in Micro-holographic Storage Technology Supports 500-Gigabyte Disc at Blu-ray Speed

Higher recording speed paving the way to commercializing GE's technology
GE's micro-holographic material can support on one disc the same storage capacity as 20 standard Blu-ray discs

NISKAYUNA, New York, July 20, 2011 – GE Global Research, the technology development arm of the General Electric Company (NYSE: GE), today announced another major breakthrough in the development of next generation optical storage technology. GE's research team has successfully demonstrated a micro-holographic material that can support data recording at the same speed as Blu-ray discs. This result builds upon the April 2009 demonstration of a threshold micro-holographic storage material that can support 500 gigabytes of storage capacity in a standard DVD-size disc.

Peter Lorraine, Manager of the Applied Optics Lab at GE Global Research, will discuss the breakthrough during a presentation today at the IEEE's Joint International Symposium on Optical Memory & Optical Data Storage Topical Meeting (ISOM/ODS) being held in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii. The ISOM/ODS brings together the world's foremost experts in optical memory and data storage technologies. GE's breakthrough in recording speed, along with other technical improvements that have been made over the past two years has micro-holographic technology more poised than ever for commercialization.

"During the past two years, our research team has been focused on material improvements to increase the recording speed and making other key advances needed to ready GE's micro-holographic technology for market," said Lorraine. "With a speed to match Blu-ray's, discs made from GE's advanced micro-holographic materials are an attractive solution for both archival and consumer entertainment systems."

With higher recording speeds required in the professional archival industry, the latest breakthrough by GE researchers will advance the company's interests in commercializing GE's micro-holographic technology in this market space.

Lorraine also noted that the breakthrough in recording speed could hasten the entry of GE's micro-holographic technology into the consumer electronics market. Future micro-holographic discs using GE's proprietary material will read and record on systems very similar to a typical Blu-ray or DVD player. In fact, the hardware and formats can be so similar to current optical storage technologies that future micro-holographic players will enable consumers to play back their CDs, DVDs and BDs.

In the months ahead, GE's research and licensing teams will be sampling media to qualified companies interested in licensing its proprietary holographic data storage platform, a comprehensive portfolio that includes materials, discs, optical systems for manufacturing and optical drive technologies.

"This latest breakthrough in Holographic Data Storage represents a significant step forward on the path to commercializing this technology," said William Kernick, Vice President of Technology Ventures for GE. "We are looking forward to engaging with strategic industry partners to create an exciting new solution in the marketplace."

About Holographic Storage

Holographic storage is different from today's optical storage formats like DVDs and Blu-ray discs. DVDs and Blu-ray discs store information only on up to four layers at the surface of the disc; holographic storage technology uses the entire volume of the disc material. Holograms, or three-dimensional patterns that represent bits of information, are written into the disc at controlled depths, and can then be read out. Because micro-holographic discs can use the entire volume of the material, their storage capacity is much greater than existing storage technologies today. GE's breakthrough material, when used in a disc, will match the capacity of 20 single-layer Blu-ray discs, 100 DVDs or the hard drive of most laptop computers.

GE has been working on holographic storage technology for over eight years. The demonstration of materials that can support 500 gigabytes of capacity and recording at speeds matching today's existing storage technologies are both major milestones. These achievements have been made through the collaborative efforts of a cross-functional team of scientists and engineers from the Applied Optics and Functional Materials labs. Ultimately, the team is working toward micro-holographic discs that can store more than one terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes of data.

While GE is initially focused on the commercial archival industry, recent advancements have its micro-holographic storage technology poised to hit the consumer market. GE's path to market will be to license its technology through multiple partners in the consumer electronics supply chain. GE's Technology Ventures Group is actively exploring potential technology transfer and licensing opportunities.

About GE Global Research

GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE's businesses. Our scientists and engineers redefine what's possible, drive growth for our businesses and find answers to some of the world's toughest problems.

We innovate 24 hours a day, with sites in Niskayuna, New York; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; Munich, Germany; and fifth global research facility to open in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012. Visit GE Global Research on the web at www.ge.com/research. Connect with our technologists at http://edisonsdesk.com and http://twitter.com/edisonsdesk.

About GE Technology Ventures

Technology Ventures is dedicated to creating new spaces for GE's technology, driving the commercialization and business development of licensing portfolios for GE in non-core & adjacent markets. With close ties to GE Global Research, Technology Ventures supports the protection, development and marketing of GE's intellectual property on a global level, offering a dynamic combination of investing, licensing, industry and technical expertise.

About GE

GE is a diversified global infrastructure, finance and media company that is built to meet essential world needs. From energy, water, transportation and health to access to money and information, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company's Web site at http://www.ge.com. GE is Imagination at Work.