GE to Present on Holographic Storage
Happy New Year! We are certainly looking forward to an exciting year in 2008 as our program in Holographic Storage has grown to its biggest yet. We continue to push hard to develop the critical materials and drives needed to make holographic storage a reality, but every once in a while it is interesting to take a second to reflect on how the technology development effort has evolved to the program we have today.
When we first started out down the path of holographic storage we focused on a somewhat traditional approach to the system, called page-based storage. In these systems the holograms are relatively large and contain as many as one million bits of information (see my previous entry). However, as we continued to develop the technology, we started to realize that other types of systems may have relatively fewer potential problems. Because of the complexity of the hardware for page-based systems, the drives may be expensive (as much as $50,000 per drive!). They may be sensitive to the environment where, for example, a 2 degrees Celsius change in temperature may cause a problem in the ability to read the data. As a result, we re-focused our efforts on a technique called single-bit micro-holographic storage. In this process, the holograms are microscopic in size (0.3 microns in diameter by 5 microns deep) and each hologram represents the data simply by its presence or absence. This format starts to look like more traditional optical storage, such as DVD. However, we cram much more data into the disc by using the holograms to create as many as 40 or 50 virtual layers (versus just a few metallic layers).
Now almost everyone has heard of the “format war” that continues to exist between the two next-generation optical storage formats: Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD. Regardless of which one ultimately wins, these technologies are mature and the industry is starting to shift focus to the next format. In this sense, conferences like the Optical Data Storage (ODS) Conference and the International Symposium on Optical Memory (ISOM) tend to be good indicators of the industry direction. Holographic storage has been a highlight at these conferences for at least the last couple of years now. We are particularly excited about the conferences scheduled for this year. Our efforts in holographic storage are being recognized – we recently received (and, of course, accepted) an invitation to present at the upcoming 2008 combined ODS/ISOM Conference (you can check out the list of invited papers at http://spie.org/ods under the Conferences heading). This is very exciting for us because it represents recognition by our industrial counterparts that our work is significant – sometimes that really is the best recognition.