Don’t Worry… DVD & Blu-ray Are Not Going Away Anytime Soon!

by Antony

One of my friends told me that scientists have developed a new optical disc that can supposedly store up to 1.6 terabytes. After telling me this, he joked, “Should I start thinking about packing-up my brand new Blu-ray player?” Technology always changes and I am sure it will again, I thought to myself. So, I decided to dig deeper and gather some facts about this new SUPER disc. As it turns out, my friend was correct, researchers at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia have created a prototype using 'gold nano rods' (i.e. tiny particles of gold too small to see) and polarized light (i.e. light beaming in only one direction).

 

A standard DVD can hold up to a maximum of 8.5 gigabytes (GB) of information. Blu-ray discs by can store up to a maximum of 50 GB. But this new disc because of the way it stores data can hold up to 10,000 GB. But how?A conventional optical disc records data in binary format (i.e. a series of ones and zeroes). The code is written as a series of pits under the clear plastic surface of the disc and is read by a player's LASER. A pit reflects the light emitted by the player’s LASER at different frequency when it hits the disc’s metalized layer and is treated as digital ‘zero’ and a “non-pit” similarity reflects the light at different frequency and is recognized as a digital ‘one’. This is essentially how an optical disc currently works. The new disc stores information using two extra 'dimensions' - the color of light and the direction, or polarization of the light. The gold nano-rods used in this new disc are designed to react to particular wavelengths of light thereby allowing the use of different colors to store and read information on the same physical area of the disc. Similarly, polarizing the light allows the ability to add even more data in that same physical area. This is ingenious! Too cool… Star Trek type stuff! But I wouldn’t plan on throwing away my DVD or Blu-ray player just yet! Preparing this technology for cost effective mass production could take years. Look at Blu-ray… it took more than a decade of development to get it to where it is now – i.e. relatively economically feasible to mass manufacture. Then there is of course the support the player and drive manufacturers as they would also need to be able to get their equipment up to par to support this type of disc in the consumer market. Also, can you imagine how complicated and time consuming it would be to burn 1.6TB on a 3D writeable disc?!? Holy cow… I don’t want to even think about it since I am already frustrated at how long a 25GB BD-RE takes to burn!!! Personally, I think that the invention of this new disc is really cool but I don't see any consumer based applications for it in the foreseeable future. I know that Hollywood will NOT want to sell thousands of films on a single disc. That can’t be good for their business! The bottom-line is that for folks in the optical media industry like us, things will not be changing for a while.