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Posted: July 25, 2000
Written by: Tuan "Solace" Nguyen
Reaching The Limits
Currently, hard drives have grown in capacity at a phenomenal rate. When SCSI was the king of capacity and IDE was left in the dust, hard drive prices were high. Now, you can find IDE drives ranging from 1GB to 75GB that spin at 7,200 RPM. If you have not read our How Hard Drives Works guide, hard drives increase in capacity by increasing areal density. Meaning they crease the number of bits that can be packed into a certain area on the platter. The more bits you can store in a smaller area, the more data you can pack.
But what happens when the physical limits of hard drives are reached? You can switch over to other technologies such as holographic technology, but itís not available and wonít be for a few more years. Solid-state hard drives are still not a viable solution because RAM prices are still very high and optical drives are still not as fast as magnetic drives. Doesnít that pretty much eliminate all of our options? It pretty much does. So what do we do to feed our hunger for more storage capacity? We go smaller. How small?
Molecular Memory Storage Technology
What if we could store bits of information at the molecular level? What would it be like if we could store massive amounts of information in chunks of molecules? If you havenít read my article about holographic storage technology, you should zip by and read that; as it helps to understand the following information about molecular memory.
How It Works
How this technology works is relatively simple. This technology really is very similar to holographic storage techniques. What you have going is an LCD array. Which is basically a screen, like your laptop screen, which has cells that light up when electricity is passed through it. Now, all the LCDís are turned on, which means that they do not let light pass through them. Think of it as the LCD screen on your watch. There is a low powered laser behind the array, which is lit. Now, the laser cannot pass through with the array on. When certain cells on the LCD array turn off, the laser will pass through those inactive cells. Once they pass through, they will strike a data page, which is sensitive to the laser.
One the laser hits the data page, the sections that were struck by the laser is in a state of Q. Q state denotes a binary value of 1. The hII state denotes a binary value of 0, which were parts that were not struck by the laser.
The data is now recorded on the data page. There could be many data pages stuck together. So how does the laser strike a specific data page? Well, there is a yellow low intensity laser that lights up a specific data page setting it to recording mode, or 0 state. While the other oneís remains in idle state, which the write laser doesnít affect.