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GE announces breakthrough in micro-holographic material

A breakthrough in optical storage announced July 20 by GE Global Research could one day lead to commercially available digital storage with 20 times the capacity of standard Blu-ray discs.

According to a company announcement, the technology development arm of General Electric has successfully demonstrated a micro-holographic material that can support a data recording speed equal to that of a Blu-ray disc. In April 2009, the lab demonstrated the material could store 500 gigabytes of data in a standard DVD-sized disc.

"With a speed to match Blu-ray's, discs made from GE's advanced micro-holographic materials are an attractive solution for both archival and consumer entertainment systems," said Peter Lorraine, manager of the Applied Optics Lab at GE Global Research.

Future micro-holographic discs using GE's proprietary material will read and record on systems very similar to a typical Blu-ray or DVD player, the announcement said. The hardware and formats can be so similar to current optical storage technologies that future micro-holographic players will enable consumers to play back their CDs, DVDs and BDs.

Holographic storage differs from today’s optical storage not only in the amount of data that can be stored but also in how information is stored. Unlike DVDs and Blu-ray that store information on up to four layers at the surface of the disc, holographic storage technology uses the entire volume of the disc material.

Holograms, 3-D patterns that represent bits of information, are written into the disc at controlled depths, and can then be read out. Micro-holographic discs can use the entire volume of the material for storage.