There was a time when 250GB of hard disk space seemed like a lot. Nowadays, you can have multiple 1TB drives and still feel like you need more storage space. With music, movies and other media going digital, the need for compact, reliable and dense storage mediums increases exponentially.
It seems that a breakthrough has been made by Singapore's own Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE). Dr. Joel Yang had been working on using sodium chloride and the electron beam lithography process to improve storage density and size since his graduate days. One of the ways data is stored on disks currently is in the form of magnetic clusters. The research found out that utilizing salt in conjunction with standard materials helped in better "nano-patterning" of these clusters, hence giving better storage density.
With the help of colleagues and researchers at IMRE, National University of Singapore, Research Data Storage Institute and Agency for Science, Technology and Research, the research has been refined and is being put into application. The result is a storage medium with a density of 3.3 terabits per square inch.
What is most impressive about the feat is that unlike other competing technologies, such as heat-assisted magnetic recording, the new process utilizes the current infrastructure for hard disk production. This would hopefully keep prices down in the future if and when the new higher density hard disks become available for public use.