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Holograms Hold 500 GB on Disc

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NISKAYUNA, N.Y., April 29, 2009 – A new standard-size DVD features a 500-GB storage capacity, which is equal to 20 single-layer Blu-ray discs, 100 DVDs or the hard drive for a large desktop computer. The breakthrough optical storage technology was announced by GE Global Research, the technology development arm of General Electric Co.

GE’s microholographic discs will be read and recorded on systems very similar to a typical Blu-ray or DVD player. Holographic storage is different from today’s optical storage formats such as DVDs and Blu-ray discs, which store information only on the surface; holographic storage technology uses the entire volume of the disc material.

Overlapping blue lasers record holograms in a GE microholographic disc. The company says a single disc can store the equivalent of 100 DVDs.

Holograms, or three-dimensional patterns that represent bits of information, are written into the disc and can be read out. Although GE’s holographic storage technology represents a breakthrough in capacity, the hardware and formats are so similar to current optical storage technology that the microholographic players will enable consumers to play back their CDs, DVDs and BDs.

The GE team successfully recorded microholographic marks approaching 1 percent reflectivity with a diameter of approximately 1 μm. When standard DVD or Blu-ray disc optics are used, the scaled-down marks will have sufficient reflectivity to enable more than 500 GB of total capacity in a CD-size disc.

“GE’s breakthrough is a huge step toward bringing our next-generation holographic storage technology to the everyday consumer,” said Brian Lawrence, who leads GE’s Holographic Storage program. “Because GE’s microholographic discs could essentially be read and played using similar optics to those found in standard Blu-ray players, our technology will pave the way for cost-effective, robust and reliable holographic drives that could be in every home. The day when you can store your entire high-definition movie collection on one disc and support high-resolution formats like 3-D television is closer than you think.”

GE has been working on holographic storage technology for more than six years. The demonstration of materials that can support a capacity of 500 GB represents a major milestone in making microholographic discs that ultimately can store more than 1 TB, or 1000 GB, of data. Besides pushing the limits of storage capacity, GE researchers also have been very focused on making the technology easily adaptable to existing optical storage formats and manufacturing techniques.

“GE’s holographic storage program has turned the corner, and with this milestone, we can now intensify our efforts in commercialization opportunities,” said Bill Kernick, who leads GE’s Technology Ventures team. “We’ll continue to engage with a variety of strategic partners to create the best route from product development to introduction into the marketplace.”

To market its holographic storage technology, GE initially will focus on the commercial archival industry, followed by consumer applications.

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Apr 2009
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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