Doubling data capacity – saying goodbye to the bit

Circuit using dyes

Posted on Friday, July 21, 2017

The battle to increase data storage is set to become a lot more colorful as researchers from Case Western Reserve University believe they have identified another potential technique. Their experiments suggest that polymer films containing two different dyes can be used to hold information.

One of the dyes tested fluoresces green when exposed to heat, while the other fluoresces ultramarine when exposed to ultraviolet light. If the two dyes overlapped and exposed to both heat and ultraviolet, they fluoresce as cyan.

Using the three available colours, researchers believe that these dots of colour can then be used to store information. What makes this new technique so interesting is the way it changes storage – instead of holding information in a series of 1s and 0s like a traditional magnetic disk, the dyes allow four combinations that can be thought of as 0, 1, 2 and 3.

These four combinations give rise to the potential for implementing quaternary code, storing twice the amount of information in the same physical space normally occupied by binary information.

A significant code change

There is one problem with shifting to quaternary code – current applications are not compatible. Built on binary addressing, your existing software cannot take advantage of the additional “bits”, creating no space savings at all.

If systems built on quaternary addressing are to succeed, businesses will need to re-engineer their code. Typically rewriting software is extremely expensive, but the Case Western Reserve team believe they may have a technique that will simplify the process and cap costs in the process.

Until the future arrives…

These dye-based systems remain proof of concept for now, but if there is genuine potential, it may be a technology to watch in future. For now though, businesses need to address data more intelligently using bit-based storage.

As always, you could choose to purchase higher-capacity disks. Alternatively, give the CDS team a call today and let us help you understand how to upgrade and redeploy existing storage arrays to increase capacity at minimal cost.