ZURICH, Switzerland, June 13 -- Using an innovative nanotechnology, IBM scientists have demonstrated a data storage density of a trillion bits per square inch -- 20 times higher than the densest magnetic storage available today.
IBM achieved this density -- enough to store 25 million printed textbook pages on a surface the size of a postage stamp -- in a research project code-named "Millipede".
Rather than using traditional magnetic or electronic means to store data, Millipede uses thousands of nano-sharp tips to punch indentations representing individual bits into a thin plastic film. The result is akin to a nanotech version of the venerable data processing "punch card" developed more than 110 years ago, but with two crucial differences: the Millipede technology is rewriteable (it can be used over and over), and it may be able to store more than 3 billion bits of data in the space occupied by just one hole in a standard punch card.
IBM scientists said even higher levels of storage density are possible.
"The Millipede project could bring tremendous data capacity to mobile devices such as personal digital assistants, cellular phones and multifunctional watches," said Peter Vettiger, Millipede project leader. "In addition, we are also exploring the use of this concept in a variety of other applications, such as large-area microscopic imaging, nanoscale lithography or atomic and molecular manipulation."