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Mini disks with slanted edges could save your data, not the music industry

Tim Stevens
03.15.11
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No, not those MiniDiscs. The ones we're talking about, created by researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, are much, much smaller -- less than 300 nanometers across. The tiny disks of magnetic material are formed using glass spheres that are themselves about 300nm in diameter. They are arranged into hexagonal shapes on top of a thin, magnetic layer and are then bombarded with argon ions. The ions wear away the magnetic layer that is not protected by the glass spheres, leaving behind tiny disks. The argon also starts to eat at the glass too, shrinking the spheres and, as they erode, chipping away at the edges of those newly formed disks on the surface. This gives them a nano beveled edge, allowing for a so-called vortex twist that enables magnetic storage of individual bits at incredibly low power. While it remains to be seen what kind of storage density can be achieved in this manner, we do know one thing for sure: you're a real trooper if you made it through that post. Give yourself a pat on the back and three internet points.

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