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Sticky tape could be next hard drive

Chuck out that CD-ROM and grab your Sellotape

German and American scientists are working to develop a new information storage technology using ordinary commercial adhesive tape as a medium.

German private lab European Media Laboratory (EML) and Stanford University have signed a three-year cooperation contract, EML announced yesterday. EML expects the project to take about five years to develop.

The partners in the project hope to develop a "compact and affordable" storage medium for applications such as pocket computers and digital video cameras. They even envision a data-storage sticker, a modified adhesive film onto which tiny individual holograms are written. It holds about 250 times as much information as a standard bar code, the researchers said, and could be used as secure identification for products.

EML researcher Steffen Noehte discovered three years ago that the polymer structure of the 'tesa Multi-Film' brand adhesive tape is well suited as a holographic data medium.

The technique, similar to that used to burn a CD, modifies the optical properties of the tape using a laser. It can store data on any individual layer of the tape without unwinding the roll or disturbing other layers, meaning as much as 10GB can be written on a single roll.

The laboratory said the new technology is superior to current CD drives, for example, because it is the laser beam that rotates, rather than the storage medium, helping avoid potential balance problems. This technique enables high-speed rotation and thus the high data-transfer rates which are required to record and play back video films, for example.


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