A Case Western Reserve University physics professor and his graduate student have launched a company aimed at making an optical disc that holds 1TB to 2TB of data. The technology would provide small- and medium-sized businesses an alternative to storing data on magnetic discs or cumbersome magnetic tapes.
“A disc will be on the capacity scale of magnetic tapes used for archival data storage. But, they will be substantially cheaper and have one advantage: you can access data faster. You just pop the disc in your computer and you can find the data in seconds. Tapes can take minutes to wind through to locate particular data,” said Kenneth Singer, the Ambrose Swasey professor of physics, and co-founder of Folio Photonics.
To load what is the equivalent of 50 commercially available Blu-ray discs on a single, same-size disc, the scientists use similar optical data storage technology. But, instead of packing more data on the surface, they write data in dozens of layers; not the two or four layers used in Blu-rays. Using technology first developed by the center for layered polymeric systems at Case School of Engineering, the developers designed an optical film with 64 data layers.
A thick, putty-like flow of polymers is repeatedly divided and stacked, then spread into a film and rolled onto a spool. They estimate they can make a square kilometer of film in an hour. To make the final product, the researchers cut and paste film onto the same hard plastic base DVDs and Blu-rays are built on.
The engineers said that they need to make only slight adjustments to a standard disc reader to enable it to probe and read the data on each layer without interference from layers above or below.
Kenneth Singer and his partner Mr. Valle founded Folio Photonics last week, after interviewing 150 potential customers, partners and suppliers, and underwent days and evenings of business and commercialization training. The Case Western Reserve scientists are not the only ones pursuing terabyte-storage discs.
"Other companies are looking into a holographic technology, which requires two lasers to write the data and will require a whole new writer/reader. Ours has the advantage of lower manufacturing costs and is more compatible with current readers and writers,” said Mr. Singer.
Folio Photonics will be based in the Cleveland area. Singer and Valle hope to have prototype discs and readers to show within a year.