Move aside Blu-ray and HD DVD - 50TB protein discs are coming

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.

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