Increasing CD and microchip storage capacity 100-fold

phys.org | 11/13/2018 | Staff
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Research by Pierre Lucas could lead to computer memories that work more like human memories.

Imagine if microchips and rewritable CDs could hold a hundred times more data.

Way - Data - Starts - Material - CDs

The way digital data is stored starts with the material it's stored on, which, in rewritable CDs and many microchips, is something called phase change material, or PCM.

Pierre Lucas, a UA professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the College of Optical Sciences, is using a grant of just over $560,000 from the National Science Foundation to improve these materials, opening the door for high-density memories and devices that mimic the sophistication of the human brain.

CD - Part - CD - Center - Darker

Ever notice how, when you burn a CD, the reflective part of the CD close to the center becomes darker? That reflective stuff is a phase change material that switches from crystal, also known as a "1" in digital terms, to glass, or a "0" in digital terms. Microchip memories are made of the same material.

"Everything you write, record or save on your computer is constantly being encoded in 0s and 1s," Lucas said. "So, when you save something, you're basically writing a bunch of 0s and 1s, or converting little cells on your computer chip into either glass or crystal."

Darker - Part - CD - Magnifying - Glass

If you looked at the darker part of the CD with a magnifying glass, you would see some spots that are lighter and some that are darker: A CD reader translates the reflective crystals into 0s and the less reflective glass bits into 1s, and then translates that code into the music, documents, images or other information a user needs to store.

Part of Lucas' research involves expanding the options for what forms phase change materials can take—instead of bits only being saved as fully crystal or fully glass, they could be saved as half crystal and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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