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Data Storage Science

Titanium Oxide For High-Density Optical Storage 172

Posted by kdawson
from the fast-cheap-and-in-control dept.
Stoobalou and other readers sent along word of research out of Japan, using a new crystal form of titanium oxide for high-density data storage — promising discs that store 1,000 times more data than Blu-ray does today, up to 25 TB. The material transforms from a black-colored metal state that conducts electricity into a brown semiconductor when hit by light, at room temperature. Titanium oxide's market price is about one-hundredth that of the rare element that is currently used in rewritable Blu-ray discs and DVDs. The material is cheap and safe, and is already being used in many products ranging from face powder to white paint. The researchers successfully created the material in particles measuring as small as 5 nanometers in diameter.
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Titanium Oxide For High-Density Optical Storage

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  • by pegasustonans (589396) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:24AM (#32346242)

    Are there any projections/estimates related to how stable this media would be when used for long-term archival storage?

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:43AM (#32346308)

      I admit having no idea about the answer to that very interesting question but the fact that the surface changes "when hit by light, at room temperature" makes me suspect it doesn't have much chance on that front.

      We need a disk that can only be writen by divine intervention at Hell's main furnace, temperature.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by martijnd (148684)

        Just put into a light sealed box -- bit like a hard disk today.

        Oh, that was too simple a solution? I am sure we can think of something more complicated.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I admit having no idea about the answer to that very interesting question but the fact that the surface changes "when hit by light, at room temperature" makes me suspect it doesn't have much chance on that front.

        I bet it would last at least as long as thermal fax paper.

      • Oh, you mean read-only?

      • by Megaweapon (25185) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @08:22AM (#32347508) Homepage

        We need a disk that can only be writen by divine intervention at Hell's main furnace, temperature.

        That would be "The Matrix: Revolutions" special edition BluRay with extended director's apology voice track.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Practical production is a good way off (for that matter, they haven't yet used it for storage in the lab), but since it is electrically but optically writable, it could be de-sensitized by a coating that will permit a laser of a specific wavelength to write it but attenuate normal lighting well below the threshold.

        It could also be that another similar substance is found with somewhat better characteristics or that this proves impractical outside of the lab.

    • by Vekseid (1528215) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:06AM (#32346426) Homepage
      Titanium dioxide itself is ridiculously stable. It's what makes it so safe - we use it to whiten marshmallows for crying out loud. How stable the structure is is an open question though, it doesn't say what frequency or intensity of light.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Titanium dioxide itself is ridiculously stable. It's what makes it so safe - we use it to whiten marshmallows for crying out loud.

        Are you saying I could store my entire porn collection on marshmallows?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:53AM (#32346680)

          Are you saying I could store my entire porn collection on marshmallows?

          Isn't your porn collection sticky enough already?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MichaelSmith (789609)

          Titanium dioxide itself is ridiculously stable. It's what makes it so safe - we use it to whiten marshmallows for crying out loud.

          Are you saying I could store my entire porn collection on marshmallows?

          Not with me around. Mmmm forbidden marshmallows.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tom17 (659054)
          If the cops come round cos of all your porn, you could just eat the evidence!
          • by Thanshin (1188877)

            If the cops come round cos of all your porn, you could just eat the evidence!

            Agggh..

            The sticky porn collection post turned every other one in the branch into a disgusting, revolting joke.

            • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

              It makes them all 10x funnier, while at the same time creating a strong urge to take a shower and was your mouth out with soap.

    • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @07:10AM (#32346794)

      Are there any projections/estimates related to how stable this media would be when used for long-term archival storage?

      If the state changes in light, then there are some rules to follow:

      1. No bright light
      2. Don't get them wet
      3. Never feed them after midnight, no matter how much they beg
    • by Khyber (864651)

      "Are there any projections/estimates related to how stable this media would be when used for long-term archival storage?"

      Not very long. Most titanium oxides of any sort are semi-unstable and degrade fairly easily, which is why they're used en-masse in sunscreen - it works for a short period of time but it degrades quickly under visible and UV wavelength light, requiring you to re-apply it.

      I'd bet exposing one of these discs to normal light for any lengthy amount of time would render the disc unusable.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Most titanium oxides of any sort are semi-unstable and degrade fairly easily

        Really? My toothpaste doesn't seem to degrade all that quickly.

        In fact, titanium dioxide is chemically stable. What you're confused about is the fact that it is photcatalytic. That's what makes it attractive as a sunscreen. It uses up the UV energy by combining other elements in the sunscreen. That's why it fades, it runs out of stuff to catalyze, the titanium doesn't degrade in any way. If it did, 3 year old marshmallows wouldn't be white. Trust me, they are.

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        My hard disks are all sealed very safely inside metal boxes. Their delicate little mechanical/magnetic workings are never exposed to the outside world in normal operating conditions. If I were to accidentally smash one open, I'd probably write it off as a goner.

        Why should light ever reach the platters of this drive in an archival situation?

  • Finally! (Score:3, Funny)

    by sosume (680416) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:26AM (#32346244) Journal

    I have been waiting for affordable removable storage in the TB size range for many years now! There's a giant p0^H^H document library waiting on my NAS to be archived ...

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:34AM (#32346282)
    The full 1000x potential won't be extracted straight away, we may see this technology in the next generation x2 or x5 the density. Now that Big Content has found a reason for more capacity with 3D, and a reason to make your existing movie collection obsolete, they will be looking for the sucessor for blu-ray 3-4 years down the track (because honestly it hasn't taken over from DVDs yet).

    Interestingly in CD-ROM's heyday it wasn't uncommon for a PC to have a smaller hard drive than the amount of data that would fit on a CD-ROM. About the time DVD-ROMs were out I suppose hard drives were only a little larger. Blue-rays were fraction the size of a hard drive when the format spec was finalized (2005). Now hard drives are 20-40x larger than a blu-ray disc.

    Carelessly extrapolating from the trend I predict we might not see this technology in widespread use until a common consumer hard drive is past the 25TB mark.
    • by tagno25 (1518033)
      I have never had a HDD smaller than my removable medium at the time. When I had a 5.25" floppy drive I had a ~30MB HDD, 3.5" floppy drive I had 200MB HDD, 700MB CD-ROM I had a 2GB HDD, 4.7GB DVD-ROM I had a 40GB Drive. Now I have ~10TB of disk space and no BD-ROM.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by chronosan (1109639)
        Go go personal anecdote, I had a 486SX33 with 24MB RAM 210MB HDD and 4xCDROM drive.
        • by ledow (319597)

          I see your crazy personal anecdote and raise you mine: The first PC I owned had a CDROM had 4Mb RAM and a 40Mb hard disk (we paid nearly the price of the computer again to upgrade from its original 1Mb with 20Mb disk), before we then changed to another PC to upgrade. It was a 1x CD-ROM too. And an ISA Sound-Blaster was cabled into it. Weirdest bit? I still have the CDROM drive and it still works.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mr_mischief (456295)

            I have a 286 @ 20MHz with 1 MB of RAM, a 40 MB hard drive, SB 16, EGA, both 3.5" HD (1.44 MB) and 5.25" HD (1.2 MB) and a 2x CDROM. The whole system still works. Ken's Labyrinth rocks!

            • by Lumpy (12016)

              Tandy Model 12 with a box of 8" floppies. I demo the NASA solar panel calculation software on it about once a quarter to students.

              And I got a Tandy Model I in the basement somewhere.. I need to get this dinosaur crap out of here....

              • by Yvan256 (722131)

                I need to get this dinosaur crap out of here....

                To the eBaymobile!

              • Well, I have a c64c and an Atari 800 XL that both work, but they don't have CD-ROM drives. The Atari doesn't have a floppy or tape drive that works, but the system and the cartridge slot do.

            • by Khyber (864651)

              Packard Bell 8088. 20MB HDD, 1x CD-ROM. 512KB RAM. CGA. 2400 baud modem. PC Speaker only (except plugging headphones into the CD-ROM.)

            • by dwarfsoft (461760)

              I had One of these [wikipedia.org]. The old XT/8088. 4.77MHz, up to 640KB RAM (ought to be enough for anybody right? OK I only had 128 KB), 10 MB HDD. I think we had a CGA card in it...

              It was working until somebody threw it away while I was at Uni. Oldest I have now is a AMD K6-2 333MHz PC... running on a PC-Chips board of all things... and yes... still works.

      • by imsabbel (611519)

        386DX40 with 4Mbyte of RAM, 170MB HD, Mitsumi FX-001D CD-Rom drive.

        Just because you were a late adopter of CD-Roms doesnt mean everybody was.

    • Lets say one could buy movies at the way too low price of $.50 a gigabyte. Games and programs are much more expensive. But even at that price 25TB would cost $12,500. I do not see anyone filling up one of these disk with useful data for a reasonable price.
  • by yanagasawa (120791) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:18AM (#32346474) Journal

    Titanium oxide isn't used for pigments - titanium dioxide is.

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Titanium dioxide is a type of titanium oxide, specifically titanium (IV) oxide.

      Titanium monoxide is also a type of titanium oxide.

      Dititanium trioxide is also a type of titanium oxide.

      Seriously, what's with the quibbling over semantics, particularly when you don't understand the terms you are using?

  • One wonders how light stable this system will be compared to existing DVD coatings. My suspicions would suggest that it may be worse.
  • 20 years away? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slackarse (875650) * on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:45AM (#32346618) Journal

    Buh. After reading about terrabit cube storage in 1994 http://bit.ly/cf4ufr [bit.ly] [new scientist], I didn't upgrade my 3.5" floppies for years ... now I'm old, cynical about every article like this and my removable storage devices don't go past 32GB.

    • You could get a USB or eSATA hard drive. That's sort of removable. I mean, it's external and all, but you can disconnect it and move it to another system without opening the case. That's what "removable" really means, not necessarily that it slides into a slot or sits on a tray.

      • You could get a USB or eSATA hard drive. That's sort of removable.

        Something that "slides into a slot or sits on a tray" doesn't need an extra power brick. Nor does a USB flash drive. Many USB or eSATA hard drives, on the other hand...

  • Sony announces technology expo next week for new, even better than Blu-Ray format set for release in 5 years, throwing everyone in limbo wondering if they should stick with DVDs, buy into Blu-Ray and pray for backwards compatibility, or not buy a movie for 5 years. Monster cable to demo new cable technology, provides everyone with magnifying glasses so they can experience the difference.

    • Sony... MiniDisc, UMD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick derivatives, BetaMax, Hi-8, Digital8 MicroMV, DVCAM, HiFD, Elcaset, Super Audio CD...

      I'd put little stock into a Sony format announcement until I see the specs, the marketing, the cross-licensing, and the support from other vendors.

      They were instrumental in development or support for many successful open standards, like the 3.5" HD floppy, the original music CD, HDV, or compact cassette. However, just as often as supporting the format everyone is using, they

      • by tepples (727027)

        Sony... MiniDisc, UMD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick derivatives, BetaMax, Hi-8, Digital8 MicroMV, DVCAM, HiFD, Elcaset, Super Audio CD...

        MiniDisc found a loyal following among concert tapers, as did Video8 and Video Hi8 among amateur videographers.

        They were instrumental in development or support for many successful open standards, like the 3.5" HD floppy, the original music CD, HDV, or compact cassette.

        That and PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and Blu-ray Disc. But during the analog camcorder era, were Video8 and Video Hi8 [wikipedia.org] really that much of a failure?

        However, just as often as supporting the format everyone is using, they try to push out a format they developed that has little or no support from anyone else.

        How does Sony know whether a format will have little or no support before it tries? What was MiniDisc's fatal flaw that kept it from overtaking Compact Cassette, other than perhaps failure to aggressively cut prices on home decks?

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @07:06AM (#32346762)

    The point.

    Why again do we need another slow optical disc medium? The times of those are clearly over.
    Until that thing comes out, USB sticks are going to be 25 TB too. And much smaller. And not prone to scratching, sunlight, bending, dust, etc. And for everything else there is HDDs/SSDs.

    • Exactly. As another poster noted, when CD-R discs first became available, most hard drives were smaller than 650 megs, so it made sense as a backup medium. Now, the largest commonly available hard drive is 2 terabytes, and backing that up even with Blu-Ray is like backing up a CD-ROM on floppies. In recent years, I've taken to buying hard drives in pairs: one for the working data, and one for the backup. (Yes, I know, but this is adequate for personal use. I'd use RAID arrays in a corporate environment.) Al

    • by grumbel (592662)

      Why again do we need another slow optical disc medium?

      Because we currently don't have a removable media that is cheap and large for backup. Blurays are still more expensive then USB HDDs and DVD+R per gigabyte and even if they would be cheap, they just are not large enough to backup even a single partition of your 1TB drive. DVD+R are still the cheapest storage available, but they are so small, that they are just useless for backup.

      So cheap and big would be something new, especially when they manage get anywhere near the 25TB mark. As that's a mark that even H

      • by ZorbaTHut (126196)

        It's called "an external hard drive". Plug it in via USB. One terabyte of space for a hundred bucks (probably less, now.)

  • Safe... Really? (Score:2, Informative)

    by s31523 (926314)
    According TFA: "You don't have to worry about procuring rare metals. Titanium oxide is cheap and safe, already being used in many products ranging from face powder to white paint"

    Really? Several articles have linked TiO2 to cancer [ccohs.ca]. Yeah, real safe.
    • Well, unless they make that center hole a lot bigger, I won't be rubbing that disc on my skin anywhere. So I'm not really worried.

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Really? Several articles have linked TiO2 to cancer [ccohs.ca]. Yeah, real safe.

      Ahh, so that's why everyone is getting mouth cancer! It's all the TiO2 in every white, opaque toothpaste on the market!

      What's that? Mouth cancer is extremely rare? Not linked at all to TiO2?

      Huh.

    • You'll probably never come into contact with the titanium oxide, thanks to the plastic coating that traditionally keeps the data layers more or less protected. Plus, the outgassing from the plastic coating is likely way worse for you anyway.
  • Actually several lifetimes worth. One disk that can be passed from generation to generation!

    Seriously, who needs 25TB with a single access channel and a single point of failure?

  • What rare element? I thought that BRDs and DVDs used aluminum, just like CDs did.

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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