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Physicists claim laser can increase disk I/O by 100,000 times

High-speed laser bursts found to alter electron spin speed

June 1, 2009 03:54 PM ET

Computerworld - A team of French physicists said they have discovered a way to use lasers to accelerate storage I/O on hard discs by up to 100,000 times current read/write methods.

The physicists from the Institute of Materials Physics and Chemistry in Strasbourg, France, built their new laser technology on a foundation technology called "spintronics," which won the 2007 Nobel physics prize.

Spintronics, which is short for "spin transport electronics," uses the natural spin of electrons within a magnetic field -- that in turn produce electric output -- in combination with a read/write head to lay down and read back bits of data on storage media.

An intrinsic problem with spintronics has been the slow speed of magnetic sensors that are used to detect the bits of data. But, according to a study published in the scientific journal Nature Physics, a team of researchers led by Jean-Yves Bigot used a "Femtosecond" laser, which produces super-fast laser bursts to alter electron spin, speeding up the read/write process.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Bigot said his team's breakthrough, which he dubbed the "photonics of spin," ... modifies the state of the electrons' magnetization on the storage surface.

Currently, Bigot's Femtosecond lasers are about 12 inches x 4 inches in size, and so are impractical for consumer electronics, but the device could be miniaturized in the future, Bigot said.

According to the AP, IBM, Hitachi and other data storage vendors of storage are interested in the research.

Read more about Data Storage in Computerworld's Data Storage Topic Center.



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