Very Soon, store 10 terabits on a fingernail-sized device

A new discovery may open the way for the development of next generation data storage devices with capacities of up to 10 terabits (10 trillion bits) per square inch – vastly enhancing storage on much smaller data devices.

Imagine storing thousands of songs and high-resolution images on data devices no bigger than a fingernail.

An ultra-smooth surface may be the answer, according to a discovery by the researchers from Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (ASTAR) Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), reports the journal Nature reports.

The self-assembly technique is one of the simplest and cheapest high-volume methods for creating uniform, densely-packed nanostructures that could potentially help store data, according to an ASTAR statement.

However, attempts to employ self-assembly on different surface types, such as magnetic media used for data storage, have shown varying and erratic results to date. This phenomenon has continued to puzzle industry researchers and scientists globally.

Researchers from ASTAR have now solved this mystery and identified that the smoother the surface, the more efficient the self-assembly of nanostructures will be.

This breakthrough allows the method to be used on more surfaces and reduces the number of defects in an industrial setting. The more densely packed the structures are in a given area, the higher the amount of data that can be stored.

“A height close to 10 atoms, or 10 angstroms in technical terms, is all it takes to make or break self-assembly,” said MSM Saifullah, one of the key researchers from ASTAR’s IMRE who made the discovery. This is based on a root mean squared surface roughness of five angstroms.