How Could You Fit Your Movie Library on 1 Disc? By Using *5* Dimensions

By Rachel Cernansky | May 22, 2009 6:18 am

dvd2.jpgA new optical storage technique that records in five dimensions could hold up to 10,000 times what a standard DVD can store. The new technology could see a whopping 1.6 terabytes of information fit on a DVD-sized disc [BBC], whereas a DVD now can hold only 8.5 gigabytes and a Blu-ray disc up to 50.

Discs started out storing information in two dimensions and more recently have been stepped up to three. By using gold nanorods [the researchers] were able to add two additional dimensions, one based on the colour spectrum, and the other on polarisation [PhysOrg]. The key for his team was to find a material for the disk that could store this extra information…. That ideal material contains gold, rod-shaped nanoparticles of different sizes and orientations [Nature].

Straying from the traditional DVD model, which records data in one-color wavelengths, the researchers used the nanoparticles to record information in a range of different colour wavelengths on the same physical disc location…. Also, the amount of incoming laser light absorbed by the nanoparticles depends on its polarisation. This allowed the researchers to record different layers of information at different angles [BBC]. They have shown that using two polarizations and three colours, you can pack around 140 gigabytes of information into each cubic centimetre of disk space. That allows a DVD-sized disk to hold 1.6 terabytes of data…. Adding an extra dimension by using another polarization could ramp that up further to 7.2 terabytes [Nature].

While color- and polarization-based techniques have been used in isolation before, this is the first time the two have been integrated in a single technology that the researchers call 5-D recording, though a commercial product is at least five years off.

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Image: Flickr / samantha celera

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math, Technology
  • p

    POP! That was the sound of my head exploding. We can’t see 5 dimensions but we can use them for data storage. I’m going back to school.

  • Matt Tarditti

    @ P: Don’t sweat the school stuff. Everybody can see 5 dimensions (at least)…spatial (x, y, z) and then there’s color and light intensity. A dimension doesn’t have to be spatial; a dimension is any observable variable that can relay information. A round object 2 feet away could be a ball, an orange, or a cartoon bomb. Spatial dimensions dont help distinquish there, but color and light intensity do!



  • Nick

    I just about sh*t my pants when you said 5 dimensions. While thing technology is still pretty cool, and damn, I mean, I’d need an entire 100 disk spindle to back up just may main two hard drives (I produce music and do HDR photography… adds up so quick it’s almost painful), it’s not quite as cool as the promise of having engineered our way past the standard model of quantum physics (in which we have 4 dimensions).

    Though, honestly, I wouldn’t call these dimensions, I would call them properties (just as the frequency and amplitude of light are properties, not extra dimensions, of things we see). Still, I predict this will be a very hot topic today. :)

  • Matt Yabsley

    I will take two. Send them by camel will you.

  • http://Ngaruiya,Limuru Ngaruiya, Limuru, Kenya

    Wow! Imagine that. The storage capacity. Not “5Dimensions”

  • Gando

    Whoa. 1.6 terabytes… I wish I had one of those. I hope they are rewritable.

  • Jumblepudding

    Amazing that humans were so attracted to gold even before we knew it had all these applications for conductivity, electron microscopy and data storage.

  • A Reliable Source

    With the rumored prices of the discs who cares if they’re rewritable sure it will reduce disc usage but if they store that much info it doesn’t really matter you will probably never go through a ten pack of discs.


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