updated 03:10 pm EDT, Fri May 16, 2008
3D Magnetic Storage
A new discovery could dramatically improve the capacity of magnetic hard drives, according to a new discovery made by a Rennselaer Polytechnic doctoral graduate. Paul Morrow has developed a new, nanotechnology-based magnetic storage technique that alternates magnetic and non-magnetic layers and uses a non-magnetic microscope to read the data at the nanoscale level. The advancement would both allow hard drives to read a three-dimensional grid of data but would also permit more information to be packed into a given space.
Morrow's approach would not only increase the capacity of a hard drive by multiple times but would also reduce the cost and power use of the same disks. The technique has a unique ability to scale as nanotechnology improves, with the microscope able to read finer and finer magnetic differences.
Rennselaer notes that current efforts limit the invention to reading several nanolayers at a time, reducing its practicality; the ultimate goal is to read a single nanolayer at a time and thus make very fine-grained reading possible. Neither Morrow nor his school have outlined when they expect the technology to be commercialized for use, though they add that the concept could help detect very weak magnetic fields, such as in secure currency or those generated by humans.