French physicists claim breakthrough in ultra-fast data access

May 31, 2009

French physicists said on Sunday they had used ultra-fast lasers that could accelerate storage and retrieval of data on hard discs by up to 100,000 times, pointing the way to a new generation of IT wizardry.

The research builds on achievements that earned the 2007 Nobel physics prize for Albert Fert of France and Peter Gruenberg of Germany, who ushered in a revolution in miniaturised storage in the 1990s.

Fert and Gruenberg discovered that tiny changes in magnetic fields can yield a large electric output.

These differences in turn cause changes in the current in the readout head that scans a hard disk to spot the ones and zeroes in which data is stored.

That discovery opened the way to "spintronics", a form of electronics that uses not only but also the spin of electrons in individual atoms to provide a more compact, denser storage on hard drives.

But reading and writing data through spintronics has been hampered by the relative slowness of .

In a study published in the specialist journal , a team led by Jean-Yves Bigot of the Institute of Materials Physics and Chemistry in Strasbourg employed a "femtosecond" laser, using ultra-fast bursts of laser light, to alter and thus speed up retrieval and storage.

"Our method is called the photonics of spin, because it is photons [particles of light] that modify the state of the electrons' magnetisation" on the storage surface, Bigot told AFP.

Data is retrieved with a burst that lasts just a millionth of a billionth of a second, said Bigot.

Femtosecond lasers currently measure around 30 centimetres (12 inches) by 10 centimetres (four inches) which means they are too big for consumer electronics, he cautioned.

Bigot added, though, that their miniaturisation is likely to be achieved over the next decade.

IBM, Hitachi and other corporations are "extremely interested" by the research, Bigot said.

(c) 2009 AFP

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1.8 / 5 (6) May 31, 2009
Moore's law just goes on and on and on....
2.5 / 5 (2) May 31, 2009
Wow, going from 70MB/second to 7TB/second is quite a leap.
3.7 / 5 (7) May 31, 2009
Funny how the Moore's law naysayers did not anticipate the future having unimagined breakthroughs. What a shock. Something no one expected. And it came from the future. But now, there can be absolutely no more breakthroughs. Just ask them
3.5 / 5 (2) May 31, 2009
Pretty soon the law will change to "number of transistors per square inch will double every 18 seconds."

Arg.. excellent news article.
1 / 5 (5) Jun 01, 2009
Thats great. I have a strong feeling, density changes it is a key for everything?

All of the energy density changes! The fact that the energy change of less high-density energy. Density is the key. The energy changes in space, which does not change. All the time, explosive energy in space which does not change.


Density changes

Do not miss this!

If you want to physics theory of everything!
2.8 / 5 (4) Jun 01, 2009
I'll believe it when I see it. They do this every time. "new breakthrough in technology!" then "will be available in 5 to 10 years" Where is my personal fusion reactor?!??!?!
3.8 / 5 (4) Jun 01, 2009
Moore's law revolves around transistors, not magnetic storage.

Even if a laser unit is 4 inches by 4 inches, that kind of speed using current hard drive technology could be a huge leap for server storage systems. Increase the size of the discs to match, and you could have an high capacity, high speed drive that any enterprise might snap up for numerous applications.
4.3 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2009
-- ahh storage on hard disks has nothing at all to do with moore's law. its not even close.
1 / 5 (4) Jun 01, 2009
I guess they've never heard about Colossal Storage

Patented back in 1998.

Nothing new here.
2 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2009
Looks like Dr. Kanzo starts publishing his polymer based holographics around 2006.
3 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2009
His estimate of it taking 10 years to miniaturize femtolaser emitters is based on Moore's Law...
3 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2009
-- ahh storage on hard disks has nothing at all to do with moore's law. its not even close.

Actually, it does in relation to the control board and the read/write heads, especially if you're using a laser to do it, because the emitter's size, itself, is limited by Moore's law, which has actually been blown out of the water a few times, one of which was with Nvidia and their GPU about 5 years ago, in which they nearly tripled the amount of transistors on a chip in less than a year. He would have been more correct to say "at least double" when he authored his "law".

Incidentally, am I the only one that hates the fact so many scientific laws get named after their creator?
Moore's Law
Mohr's Law
The Eisenhofer Principle
The Oskowitz Theory

I know all these guys are arrogant scientists, but why do we have to remember their names? Create a central registry where the author(s) names are stored and give it a practical name so it's easy to remember which ones are which?!
4 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2009
Aah excellent theory on the self aggrandizement of scientists. I shall call it Ricochets law.
not rated yet Jun 06, 2009
So it won't be ready until about 10 years? Whew.. thank god because I don't have any money this week. This gives me a little breathing room to prepare. I want to make sure I get one before it sells out on its first day.
not rated yet Jun 06, 2009
Aah excellent theory on the self aggrandizement of scientists. I shall call it Ricochets law.

Can't call a theory a law...
It would be Ricochet's Self-Named Scientific Theory Theory
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2009
Can't call a theory a law...

Theories do not become elevated to laws or "thruths" once they become widely accepted or anything like that; it's not a matter of confidence level, it's a matter of old versus new nomenclature.

What we now call a theory would have been called a physical law a few hundred years ago.

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