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The Secret to Multiplying Hard Drive Capacity is Salt, Not Pepper

by Conner Flynn

We all love salt on our food, even though too much is not good for you. Salt makes everything better. Even hard drives apparently. And that’s good news given all of the things we are storing on our devices.

Scientists in Singapore are looking at a way to increase hard drive capacity by using salt. Plain old table salt in fact. Right now your hard drive works by spinning magnetic platters covered in random nanoscopic grains, which come in disorganized clumps of tens to form one bit of data. The latest drives hold up to 500 gigabits of data in every square inch. That’s not bad, but there may be a better way.

This latest idea gets rid of those random clumps and decides to instead make larger grains (ten nanometers, up from seven to eight nanometers), in regular patterns, which each store one bit. A spokesperson from Singapore’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering likens it to packing your clothes in a suitcase. The neater you pack it all in, the more it can carry.

They use an e-beam lithography process that produces fine nano-scale structures for the discs and when sodium chloride is added to the developer solution, they found that they could create nanostructures with a higher resolution: down to 4.5 nanometers half pitch, without overly expensive equipment. In the end, this salty process could allow for anywhere from 1.9TB to 3.3TB per square-inch, a substantial increase from today’s capacities.

[via Wired]

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