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by Mike Zazaian September 28, 2006 - 8:08am, 9 Comments

3 Terabyte CDs Coming From Harvard Labs

While the prospect of soon-to-be-standard 50GB Blu-ray discs is impressive, researchers at Harvard University are working on a process that could cram as much as 3,000 gigabytes onto a single CD.

The key innovation is a nano antenna, which, by attaching to a commercial optical disc laser, can focus the ,laser’s surface area from 830 nanometers down to just 40. As smaller laser sizes mean significantly larger amounts of data per square inch, discs produced by the process could contain as much as sixty times more data than even the highest capacity products available today. According to Federico Capasso, head of the project and Professor of applied physics at Harvard:

You’d be able to pack more than three terabytes [3,000 gigabytes] worth of data onto something the size of a CD.

Currently it’s impossible to cram that much data into optical storage media because industry standard lasers are capable of focusing light to only half of their wavelengths. Capasso and his team avoided this roadblock, called the defraction limit, by integrating the aforementioned nano antenna directly into the laser.

Unfortunately, with consumer Blu-ray and HD-DVD players running at $1,000 and $500 US respectively, the 3-terabyte disc is a long way from being commercially viable. While Capasso and his team have done several optical experiments to further investigate the technology, much of the work being done is strictly theoretical. Regardless, I don’t think it would surprise anyone if Sony tried to cram a $20,000 nano-antenna disc into the Playstation 4.

[via Technology Review]