by Anton Shilov
07/20/2011 | 09:33 AM
GE Global Research, the technology development arm of the General Electric, on Wednesday announced a major breakthrough in the development of next generation optical storage technology. GE’s research team has successfully demonstrated a micro-holographic material that can support data recording at the same speed as Blu-ray discs. GE plans to start sampling the new discs and optical drives to interested parties in the coming months.
This result builds upon the demonstration of a threshold micro-holographic storage material that can support 500GB of storage capacity in a standard DVD-size disc back in April, 2009. GE’s achievements in recording speed, along with other technical improvements that have been made over the past two years are important steps toward commercialization of micro-holographic storage technology.
“During the past two years, our research team has been focused on material improvements to increase the recording speed and making other key advances needed to ready GE’s micro-holographic technology for market. With a speed to match Blu-ray's, discs made from GE's advanced micro-holographic materials are an attractive solution for both archival and consumer entertainment systems," said Peter Lorraine, manager of the applied optics lab at GE Global Research.
The higher recording speeds required in the professional archival industry, the latest breakthrough by GE researchers will advance the company’s interests in commercializing GE’s micro-holographic technology in this market space.
A prototype holographic drive system designed by GE researchers in the Applied Optics Lab at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, NY.
Mr. Lorraine also noted that the breakthrough in recording speed could hasten the entry of GE’s micro-holographic technology into the consumer electronics market. Future micro-holographic discs using GE’s proprietary material will read and record on systems very similar to a typical Blu-ray or DVD player. In fact, the hardware and formats can be so similar to current optical storage technologies that future micro-holographic players will enable consumers to play back their CDs, DVDs and BDs.
In the months ahead, GE’s research and licensing teams will be sampling media to qualified companies interested in licensing its proprietary holographic data storage platform, a comprehensive portfolio that includes materials, discs, optical systems for manufacturing and optical drive technologies.
"We are looking forward to engaging with strategic industry partners to create an exciting new solution in the marketplace," said William Kernick, vice president of technology ventures for GE.
GE has been working on holographic storage technology for over eight years. Holographic storage is different from today’s optical storage formats like DVDs and Blu-ray discs. DVDs and Blu-ray discs store information only on up to four layers at the surface of the disc; holographic storage technology uses the entire volume of the disc material. Holograms, or three-dimensional patterns that represent bits of information, are written into the disc at controlled depths, and can then be read out. Because micro-holographic discs can use the entire volume of the material, their storage capacity is much greater than existing storage technologies today. GE’s breakthrough material, when used in a disc, will match the capacity of 20 single-layer Blu-ray discs, 100 DVDs or the hard drive of most laptop computers. Ultimately, the team is working toward micro-holographic discs that can store more than 1TB of data
While GE is initially focused on the commercial archival industry, recent advancements have its micro-holographic storage technology poised to hit the consumer market. GE’s path to market will be to license its technology through multiple partners in the consumer electronics supply chain. GE’s Technology Ventures Group is actively exploring potential technology transfer and licensing opportunities.