One of the chief obstacles to the commercial development of holographic data storage, with its potentially vast capacity, may be starting to crumble. Holographic storage requires a photosensitive material in which specially modulated light beams can etch the data-bearing patterns that form when they intersect. Researchers at Aprilis, a Polaroid spinoff in Maynard, MA, think they’ve found just the thing: a silicone-based polymer that holds three to four times more data than competing holographic materials and that shrinks very little when struck by a data-writing laser. In other systems, shrinkage is a problem that introduces errors into recorded data.“For holographic data storage to be successful, we needed to develop an entirely new material,” says Aprilis cofounder Parag Mehta. Prototype devices using Aprilis’s material store close to 200 gigabytes on a CD-sized disc-about 300 times as much as a conventional CD-ROM holds. Aprilis plans to supply commercial partners with its photopolymer and expects to see devices incorporating the material on the market in the next year or two.