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New method increases DVD storage up to one petabyte

Posted: 21 Jun 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3D nanofabrication  petabyte  optical beam  lithography 

A group of scientists may have discovered a way to overcome one of the fundamental laws of optical science. This discovery may lead to faster and more energy-efficient optical computing.

The experiment of researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology would allow Petabyte storage on a single disc or the equivalent of 10.6 years of compressed HD-TV video.

"The new technique produces a focal spot that is 1 ten thousandth of a human hair, enabling more data to be written to disc," director of the Centre for Micro-Photonics at Swinburne, Min Gu said. Gu is a Laureate Fellow of the Australian Research Council.

The team is composed of Gu, PhD student Zongsong Gan and Yaoyu Cao from the Centre for Micro-Photonics, and Richard Evans from CSIRO. Their technique enables three-dimensional optical beam lithography at 9nm. (The head of a pin is one million nanometres.)

The technique overcomes a fundamental law discovered in 1873 by German scientist Ernst Abbe. He determined that a light beam focused by a lens cannot produce a focal spot smaller than half of the wavelength or 500nm for visible light. This law enabled the development of modern optical microscopy, an indispensable tool in physics, chemistry, material science and biological science.

Lithography comparison

A comparison of different lithography schemes.

However, this fundamental law also set up a barrier for scientists to access small structures in the nanometre scale. "Optical beam lithography is the ultimate approach to 3D nanofabrication," Gu said. "However, the diffraction nature of light prevents us from achieving nanometre resolution in a single-beam optical beam lithography system."

Gu explained that by using a second donut-shaped beam to inhibit the photopolymerisation triggered by the writing beam in the donut ring, two-beam optical beam lithography can break the limit defined by the diffraction spot size of the two focused beams. He said the key to 3D deep sub-diffraction optical beam lithography was the development with CSIRO of a unique two-photon absorption resin.

"This enabled a two-channel chemical reaction associated with the polymerisation and its counterpart of inhibited polymerisation, respectively, which eventually attributed to build mechanically robust nanostructures. Thus, the development of the vertical integration of integrated circuits, leading to ultra-fast optical information signal processors, becomes possible in the near future," said Gu.

"Worldwide generated information doubles every two years. This breakthrough could lead to reduced cost and reduced energy consumption in data storage," Gu noted.

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