Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have announced a new way of storing data using self-organizing nanoscale elements. The scientists claim this nanotechnology could be used to store 250 DVDs on a coin-size surface:
Similar attempts have previously been made to improve data storage on semiconductor films, but have consistently failed because the polymers—which are known to link together, on their own, in precise patterns—lose their organized structure when the film being used increases in area, rendering them useless for storing memory. Lead researchers Ting Xu from the University of California at Berkeley and Thomas Russell from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst overcame this by layering the film of block copolymers onto the surface of a commercially available sapphire crystal. When the crystal is cut at an angle—a common procedure known as a miscut—and heated to 1,300 to 1,500 degrees Centigrade (2,372 to 2,732 degrees Fahrenheit) for 24 hours, its surface reorganizes into a highly ordered pattern of sawtooth ridges that can then be used to guide the self-assembly of the block polymers [Science Daily].