Scientists at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering have discovered that sodium chloride (that is, table salt) could be the key to dramatically increasing the storage capacity of hard drives.
The IMRE team lead by Joel Yang developed a new "nanopatterning" process that can more tightly pack the data-holding miniature structures on the platter of a hard drive. The latest hard drive holds approximately 0.5 Terabit/in2 of information, but using the new process produces a device that can hold 3.3 Terabit/in2. That's roughly a six-fold increase, so 1TB drives could potentially be bumped up to 6TB with this new process.
The process uses an extremely high-resolution e-beam lithography process to produce 10-nanometer grains that contain bits in a single structure, where as other platters contain data in clusters of 7 to 8-nanometer grains.
Yang also discovered he could produce even smaller 4.5-nm nanostructures without the need for expensive equipment upgrades by adding the sodium chloride to a developer solution used in existing lithography processes.
So there's something to crew on the next time you sprinkle salt on your food.
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