Researchers Invent Storage Technology That Uses Sound

It enhances magnetic storage media, like hard disk drives and credit cards

Capacity has been the one constant advantage that hard disk drives have maintained over solid-state ones, and while researchers from the Oregon State University, US, don't have a way to help companies maintain that advantage, they do have something that can boost capacities all around.

Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba are always working on new platter types and such, but research groups from around the world often come up with interesting new ideas.

The group from Oregon definitely has an interesting concept to share with the rest of the world: acoustic-assisted magnetic recording.

Basically, high-frequency sound is used to enhance the storage capabilities of magnetic devices like HDDs, credit cards, etc.

Ultrasound is directed at a highly specific location where data is being stored, creating “elasticity” for lack of a better term, which allows a tiny portion of the material to bend or stretch, only to resume shape when the waves stop.

The reason storage is limited, they say, and why long-term data reliability is a concern, is that the platters or magnetic strips are too stiff.

Ultrasound is an alternative to the idea of temporarily heating the magnetic materials. In theory, heating an area for just an instant would make it elastic and able to store more information, but the heat tends to escape the wanted region, and the whole process would take overly complex and expensive optics, electronics and magnetics elements.

“We’re near the peak of what we can do with the technology we now use for magnetic storage,” said Pallavi Dhagat, an associate professor in the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

“There’s always a need for approaches that could store even more information in a smaller space, cost less and use less power.”

One of the intriguing things about all this is that ultrasonic storage like this can be implemented in SSDs too, which would add physical durability to the assets of storage media.

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