The next generation of high density storage media may come
from the most unlikely of places. According to professor V Renugopalakrishnan
of Harvard's Medical School in Boston, the research he and his team are working
on promises storage capacities of up to 50TB
(50,000GB) on a disc the same size as a conventional DVD.
Using modified proteins from the membrane of a salt marsh microbe called halobaterium
slinarum -- also known as bateriorhodopsin (bR). The proteins store data by
capturing light in a very natural way. Light is converted to chemical energy, a
series of intermediate molecules that are unique. The molecules then return to
a "ground state", which is a chemical change in which they are all
the same. Professor Renugopalakrishnan was able to modify the protein DNA so
that the unique state, or "intermediate" stage, would last for years
instead of breaking down in a matter of hours. With this modification, any
unique intermediate state could be considered a 1 while a "ground
state" could be considered a 0.
Professor Renugopalakrishnan says that the proteins can be applied to
conventional discs such as DVD, to store data in large volumes. At the present
time, the professor says that protein-based discs can store more than 20 times
that of Blu-ray media. In future versions, discs will be able to store up to
50TB of information. Professor Renugopalakrishnan believes that this new
technology will reach limits far beyond those of magnetic recording technology
and could possibly replace it altogether.
DailyTech reported earlier in the week that a company called Technion
R&D Foundation's Technology Incubator is in the process of developing a
technology that can pack up to 1TB on a DVD-size disc. With professor
Renugopalakrishnan's research, a 1TB DVD already feels too cramped.