HOLOGRAMS ON YOUR HARD DRIVE?
REMEMBER WHEN A 40-MEGABYTE HARD DRIVE WAS standard in most personal computers? Today's drives commonly have 25 times that capacity. But in a multimedia era in which PCs are showered with voluminous files containing digitized images and sounds, even 1-gigabyte disks can fill up fast.
Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology think they have found a technology that could vastly expand storage capacity. The key is a special type of liquid crystal (photo) similar to that in LCDs. When applied in thick coatings on a disk, the coating adds a third dimension to storage, and allows information to be recorded as holograms. Holograms offer huge capacity. The entire Library of Congress could fit onto a 3-D holographic memory system the size of a PC's monitor.
Other researchers are working on 3-D holographic storage, but Georgia Tech chemistry professor Gary B. Schuster figures that his group has an advantage: their memory is erasable. Most 3-D optical memories are ``write-once'' because the process of recording data permanently alters the crystal. But data written by laser on Georgia Tech's liquid crystal can easily be deleted and overwritten by changing the laser's polarity. Schuster may have found the key, but now he has to build the house--so don't look for a liquid-crystal hard drive this century.
EDITED BY OTIS PORT
Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1996, Bloomberg L.P.