Researchers Sextuple Hard Drive Capacity With a Pinch of Salt

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Scientists at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering have discovered that sodium chloride (that is, table salt) could be the key to dramatically increasing the storage capacity of hard drives.

The IMRE team lead by Joel Yang developed a new "nanopatterning" process that can more tightly pack the data-holding miniature structures on the platter of a hard drive. The latest hard drive holds approximately 0.5 Terabit/in2 (terabits per square inch) of information, but using the new process produces a device that can hold 3.3 Terabit/in2. That’s roughly a six-fold increase, so 1TB drives could potentially be bumped up to 6TB with this new process.

The process "uses an extremely high-resolution e-beam lithography process" to produce 10-nanometer grains that contain bits in a single structure, whereas other platters store data in clusters of 7 to 8-nanometer grains. In other words, one single 10-nanometer grain can hold the same amount of data as several 7- to 8-nanometer grains do on current hard drives.

Yang also discovered he could produce even smaller 4.5-nm nanostructures (without requiring massive equipment upgrades) by adding the sodium chloride to a developer solution that's used in existing lithography processes.

So there's something to chew on the next time you sprinkle salt on your food.

[IMRE via The Telegraph]

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