How soon do you think the day will be when you can store as many movies to watch on a device smaller than the size of your average flash memory stick as you have on your iPod? 20 years? 10? If the breakthrough that was announced at the University of Pennsylvania is as big as the inventors claim it is, that day may be here before the end of the decade.
Scientists at the U of P have developed a way to create self-assembling nanowires from germanium antimony telluride. These tiny lengths are about 30 to 50 nanometers in diameter and 10 micrometers in length and are made by freezing chemicals at low temperatures, turning them into crystals. The technical stuff is hard to follow but the end result is a revolutionary new form of data storage memory that uses low power consumption (0.7mW per bit), fast read/write times (50 nanoseconds or about 1,000 times faster than the Flash-based memory devices used today) and won’t have any data corruption after 100,000 years of usage.
We’re talking terabyte memory sticks with the potential to hold decades worth of bad movies (“From Justin to Kelly”) in pristine viewing condition for a time period ten times longer than man has had civilization on the planet. And you can hold it in the palm of your hand.
“Imagine being able to store hundreds of high-resolution movies in a small drive, downloading them and playing them without wasting time on data buffering, or imagine booting your laptop computer in a few seconds as you wouldn’t need to transfer the operating system to active memory,” said Ritesh Agarwal, one of the sci-heads that worked on the process.