Thursday, June 4, 2009

Carbon nanotube data storage

One of the major problems with today’s ways of storing data is lifetime of the media. I am guessing that you are making copies of your 4-5 old CDs so you could view or edit your old family photos. I’ve done that few times and will do it few more times before we get something more permanent. Digital archiving methods seems to be of relatively short lifespan – from 5 years ford CDs to 20 for computer disks. 
Possible solution is in use of carbon nanotubes. This method is described in an article in Nano Letters site. The technique is briefly described here
…technique of placing a single iron crystal only a few billionths of a meter wide inside a hollow carbon nanotube. Like diamonds, nanotubes are among the most stable structures in existence. Once inserted into the tubes, the iron nanocrystals act as data bits, physically sliding from one end of the tube to the other in response to an electric current and in the process registering either a "1" or a "0" in the binary language of computers.
It is still long way to go before this becomes a prototype but potential is there. For potential capacity here is what the abstract says:

The shuttle memory has application for archival storage, with information density as high as 1012 bits/in2, and thermodynamic stability in excess of one billion years.


All we have to do is wait until someone actually start making these devices.

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