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Data Storage Technology

Stanford's Quantum Hologram Sets Storage Record 210

eldavojohn writes "It's often assumed that representing data reaches a limit when you get to the point that an atom represents one bit in some form or fashion. But Stanford University researchers have used a quantum hologram model to store the characters 'S' and 'U' by encoding the data at a rate of 35 bits per electron."
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Stanford's Quantum Hologram Sets Storage Record

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  • Neat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:15PM (#26661751)

    One thing most 'futurists' agree on is that the ultimate 'end game' of technology appears to be the conversion of all matter in the solar system into machine parts and computational elements. It's a logical end result of exponential growth. (and, actually, would be only the beginning : such a 'civilization' would eventually grow to convert the entire universe, but this would take much longer due to the snails pace of light)

    It's neat to think that such a civilization could store even more information than an obvious cap of '1 bit per atom'.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:47PM (#26661957) Journal

    If I understand holography and what they're doing correctly (and I DID work as a tech in Emmett Leith's lab so I have some clue), they're transforming the information.

    Yes, each electron has information from 35 bits. But more than one electron has that same information, encoded differently. How many storage electrons do they need to encode it in a way that is recoverable?

    The information per electron is the total information encoded divided by the total number of electrons needed to encode it at a high enough resolution to be recovered.

    Also: The illustration of the way they're encoding it looks like it's not just electrons that encode it, but also their absence. Add in HOLES to the count of "things encoding the bits".

    I'll be surprised if the total comes out to more than one bit per electron site. (Note that they may get more than one such site per atom.)

  • An atom? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by MisterMikeyG ( 1454529 ) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @11:17PM (#26662119)
    Why would an atom even naively be the conceptual finest representation of a bit? Does he mean an electron? An atom is quite a large and complex object compared to an electron...Measuring an electron's presence or absence yields a simple bit. There's nothing atomic ABOUT an atom... why would that ever represent a bit?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:18AM (#26663285)

    It sounds like cheating to me as well. They don't seem to be counting the MOLECULES necessary for creating the interference patterns. How many support atoms does it take to encode each bit of information? If it takes more than a couple for each bit, then how is this better than IBM's effort?

    From the article:

    On the two-dimensional surface of the copper, electrons zip around, behaving as both particles and waves, bouncing off the carbon monoxide molecules the way ripples in a shallow pond might interact with stones placed in the water. The ever-moving waves interact with the molecules and with each other to form standing "interference patterns" that vary with the placement of the molecules.

    By altering the arrangement of the molecules, the researchers can create different waveforms, effectively encoding information for later retrieval. To encode and read out the data at unprecedented density, the scientists have devised a new technology, Electronic Quantum Holography.

  • by iwein ( 561027 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:51AM (#26663469)
    If they can't recover the data, how did they prove it was ever there? I didn't read the article in good /. fashion, but if it avoids this question I'm sure it's not to be taken seriously.
  • Re:Neat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:15AM (#26663605)
    The problem with this theory : it assumes that each universe has the capacity in terms of available matter that could build a computer capable of simulating an entire universe THE SAME SIZE as the one above it. Not possible.
  • Re:Neat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KeX3 ( 963046 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @05:54AM (#26664121) Homepage
    Just because the simulation doesn't throw up "LOADING" when you go past jupiter doesn't mean the entire known universe is one big zone. If building a simulated world, it would make no sense at all to simulate the entire universe. Simulate the close proximity, use a skybox for the rest.
  • by tygerstripes ( 832644 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @07:33AM (#26664531)

    I remember discussing related "small-scale storage" issues with my brother once. Two concepts were of particular interest:

    1. Spin and such: If we want to store on a very small scale, why not use the intrinsic properties of molecules, atoms and particles? A simple example would be using a caffeine molecule, which can exist in 8 different molecular arrangements (I forget the exact details - was it aggregate Spin?), as 3-bit memory. I'm sure there are more suitable molecules, or applications on smaller scales, but the concept is sound.

    2. Holographic storage: When part of a holographic surface is destroyed or decayed, it does not result in the hologram missing parts, but in a degradation of its overall clarity, since each area of the surface encodes a little of the information about the whole hologram. If storage could be designed around the same concept, data would not be lost unless enough of the whole holograph were destroyed or corrupted.

    I particularly like this last idea, but unfortunately I suspect it would only work as permanent - not active - storage, such as read-only media. I think you could only write each bit of the hologram (or equivalent) if you knew what the whole was going to look like.

    This study seems to demonstrate the same conceptual problem, although it isn't mentioned. The resultant "picture" could only be constructed by moving atoms around until the interference between their electrons produced the desired pattern. Trying to add to it would require a re-arrangement of the whole structure every time, and such arrangements would increase in complexity exponentially.

  • Re:An atom? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:27AM (#26666623)
    There's nothing atomic ABOUT an atom

    OK, I've read dumber statement on Slashdot, but not many.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:31PM (#26667505)

    But how long will the electrons stay in these different levels?

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