GE crams 500GB onto holographic disc

General Electric has demonstrated a holographic technology that could allow up to 500GB of data to be written to a standard-sized optical disc.

GE crams 500GB onto holographic disc

The technology, dubbed micro-holographic storage, works by creating 3D images of data which are then imprinted on the disc. Unlike DVDs and Blu-ray discs, this data takes up the entire volume, rather than just being imprinted on the surface, offering much greater capacities.

Holographic technology has been kicking around for a number of years, with InPhase and Hitachi going as far to promise commercially available holographic discs by the end of 2006.

Only last year, German scientists announced they were aiming to squeeze 1TB of data onto a DVD using holographic encoding by 2010.

The team at GE says it has been working on the technology for six years, principally concerning itself with boosting the reflectivity of the holographs. This is crucial because these 3D images act like mirrors refracting light patterns when hit with a laser. This allows the encoded data to be read.

GE claims its micro-holographic marks have nearly 1% reflectivity, meaning a laser was able to pick up the reflection of 1 bit with a diameter of approximately one micron.

The practical upshot is that a single micro-holographic disc could hold the same data as 100 DVDs, or 20 single-layer Blu-ray Discs.

GE admits the technology’s still in the lab stage, but says it’s ability to make less complex holograms that remain as reflective as their larger counterparts has finally made the technology viable.

The company plans to have the discs commercially available by 2012.

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