Study on tiny nanolasers promise breakthrough in memory capacity

December 23rd, 2007 - 6:18 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 23 (ANI): Researchers have made a revolutionary advancement in memory storage devices by investigating nanolasers, which can concentrate light as small as 30 nanometers.

The potential nanolasers are being developed in Sakhrat Khizroevs lab at the University of California.

Khizroev is leading a team exploring lasers so tiny that they point to a future where a 10-terabit hard drive is only one-inch square.

That is 50 times the data density of todays magnetic storage technology, a technology that has nearly reached its limit for continued miniaturization.

In response, researchers have been looking for a new leap forward by combining light and magnetism to focus bits of data on much smaller areas on the disk.

Khizroev, an associate professor of engineering at UCR, and colleagues at the University of Houston led by Professor Dmitri Litvinov, have for the first time achieved a nanolaser which can concentrate light as small as 30 nanometers.

For many substances, that is the molecular level. Just as importantly, their nanolaser can focus 250 nanowatts of power, enough to assure effective storage of the information.

The next goal of the researchers is to improve the nanolaser to produce light beams as small as five or 10 nanometers. To achieve this they plan to improve the manufacture of their nanolasers by refining the precision of the focused gallium ion beams used for their fabrication. Khizroevs lab adapted this technology, commonly used for diagnostics in semiconductor manufacture, to cut the components of their lasers.

He credited the feasibility of this advanced nanomanufacturing on Professor Robert Haddons unique nanofabrication facilities at UCRs Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Khizroev said there are a number of challenges for getting the tiny disk drives to the market, including lubricating tiny parts and integrating the nanolaser with a recording head. Still, he insisted, the 10-terabit hard drive will be a near-term innovation, appearing in as little as two years.

The implications of the ability to focus light at these scales are even more fantastic in the longer term, he said.

The use of photochromic proteins with nanolasers should help lead to nanocomputers and the ability to store still more data in smaller places, Khizroev added.

Those proteins paired with nanolasers should also impact energy harvesting and a wide range of medical applications, he concluded.

The study is published in the latest issue of Technology Review. (ANI)

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