Data Storage Medium is soon going to shift towards liquid state, if in case, the research carried out by experts of material sciences gets a breakthrough. The researchers conducted a research on microscopic particles suspended in liquid and tried to encode the same 1s and 0s stored on solid hard drive platters. They recently came to a conclusion that clusters of these particles could one day be used to store up to 1TB of data in one tablespoon of liquid hard drive.
Recently, the team of material science experts succeeded in making the called ‘Soft-Matter’ as viable data storage medium. The researchers concluded that the soft-matter can be liquid, foam, polymer or even a bio material. The ideology behind the use of soft-matter is that it has the property to exhibit physical behaviors at various temperatures- that means changing shape from molecular level.
Sharon Glotzer and David Pine are heading the team behind the liquid hard drive and have used a type of colloidal suspension of specifically designed dimpled nanoparticles in their research. The colloidal suspension means the particles are not permanently dissolved in the solution and still retain their expected properties.
So, when the liquid is heated up, the particles will reorient themselves in predictable ways. The nanoparticles used in this study were arranged in a group of 4 with a central sphere acting as a binding point for the cluster. By adding thermal energy to the system, nanoparticles can be made to shift around on the surface of the central sphere and adopt different configurations. The entire assembly is only about 5 micrometers across, but the team was able to visually verify the change.
The researchers observed that the nanoparticles were dancing when heated and were in a position to store data. That was possible due to the simplest four-particle cluster that had only two distinguishable configurations other than the default un-stimulated state. The other two shapes were similar to chiral molecules and were made of the same constituents, but were not in a position to be superimposed. These two states can be read as 1 or a 0 and thus each cluster of nanoparticles encodes a single bit of data.
Currently, the research has reached the first milestone and the team is now busy in finding a reliable way to lock the clusters into the right shapes across a larger volume of liquid and to read the stored data on a quick note.
However, at the same time, counting the bits with a microscope may also not be possible. A few months back, a team of researchers from IBM stated that they have managed to store a bit in just 12 atoms. But they later discovered that it was not feasible to read and write data with a scanning tunneling microscope. The liquid hard drive team believes that data density could be very high with the right techniques and that is where they could achieve the 1TB per tablespoon figure one day.
So, currently the hard drives will remain solid. But the hope remains intact that a day will come when a liquid storage medium to store 1TB or more of data in just a tablespoon will be available.