Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Explosive Data Storage

The need for information storage is exploding. Now some Harvard University researchers are taking that idea literally. They are using an extremely fast laser to trigger tiny explosions that create “microcraters” to encode data.

Physics professor Eric Mazur uses red laser pulses lasting a mere 100 femtoseconds to explode glass and other translucent materials. One femtosecond is a billionth of a millionth of a second; there are as many femtoseconds in a second as there are minutes in the age of the universe.

Mazur’s graduate student Chris Schaffer took the concept a step further, building a laser that can fire every 40 billionths of a second to create layer after layer of microcraters, much like the pits that provide storage on a CD-ROM-but with the third dimension yielding a 100-fold boost in information density. Harvard has patented this potential application of microexplosions for data storage. Other possible uses: eye surgery and optical computing, where the microblasts could carve tiny spaces required to engineer optical circuits.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.