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~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The following is an article published in "Video Computing (tm)", The Journal Of Interactive Video And Optical Storage Application. Published by VideoSoft. November/December 1988 issue. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ DISK STORAGE REACHES MOLECULAR LEVEL ~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~ Forget disc capacity as we know it: 550 megabytes on a CD-ROM; 108,000 frames on a videodisc; 4 gigabytes on a 14-inch optical disc. These will all become insignificant as Martin Marietta's new optical storage system works at a terabyte per square centimeter capacity, in half the current access time. OAK RIDGE, Tennessee -- Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), have invented a new optical storage technology capable of turning a single molecule on an optical disc into a storage point. ORNL, part of the Department of Energy and one of the largest government research laboratories, is operated by Martin Marietta Energy Systems. The department has transferred the rights to Martin Marietta, which is now in the process of patenting and licensing the technology. Energy Systems has started to solicit interested companies for possible licensing agreements. The most common methods for writing on optical discs use lasers to burn pits or micron-sized holes or change the polarity of individual data points in substrate sandwiched between two layers of polycarbonate. The hardware then "reads" the change in the position of the reflected laser's beam. The new system uses a laser or radiation beam similar to current systems. But the unique featurea of ORNL's technology is in its ability to go to the molecular level. A VIDEO COMPUTING reporter talked with Mr. Guven Yalcintas (pronounced Yal*sin*tosh), Martin Marietta's licensing director. V.C.: Currently we use lasers to burn pits or blisters into substrate. What are you doing that is different? Mr. Yalcintas: We will license this technology to one of the companies, an American company. We would like to protect the patentable ideas. Our discussion will take place within that limit. In today's technology, optical disk technology, the lasers are simply burning a hole. Well, you can do that in this technology, too. What is new is we can write to the media without burning the hole. We can make changes in the molecular level. V.C.: Are you referring to changes in the polarity? Mr. Yalcintas: Yes indeed. You can change the polarity of the molecule or you can identify that molecule as plus or minus, zeroes or ones becoming information. V.C.: How do you read back the information? Mr. Yalcintas: Whatever source we use to change that information at the molecular level is the same source that receives it back. V.C.: We currently use lasers to do that. Are you using a laser? Mr. Yalcintas: Yes. In fact, the laser we use has much lower power that modifies the molecule. V.C.: Is this technology erasable? Mr. Yalcintas: This is WORM technology. You sensitize the substrate and place the information covered with the plastic coating and the information is going to stay there. V.C.: Has anyone talked about the possibility of making it erasable? Mr. Yalcintas: No. Let me go one step back. ORNL is a government laboratory. It is operated by Martin Marietta for the Department of Energy. What goes on over here every day with 5,000 plus scientists is basic research. The research this group of scientists is working on is a project to identify a trace amount of organic compounds in order to be able to develop a sensor, a detecting system for minute amounts of organic compounds. We have developed very nice operating radiation detectors. While they were working on that research, they figured out that they could leave information on a substrate with a laser. The research was not directed at optical discs to store information as WORM or erasable. One day, other research may find some easy way to deal with that. Right now it's not the topic. Right now we are finding out every day that WORM technology is in great demand. The IRS wants WORM technology, the Navy wants WORM technology. The nuclear regulatory commission wants to check data on reactors. It doesn't want that data to be changed. For one reason, there is no funding for that, and second, we don't believe there is any reason to erase. With this volume of storage you don't need to erase, you just keep on storing. V.C.: How much data can you store? Mr. Yalcintas: Roughly, the size of the molecule is 10 -6E (0.000001) centimeters, in one square centimeter you then have 10 12E molecules. If each molecule is a potential storage spot for the data, then you have 10 12E bytes in one square centimeter (1,000,000,000,000... one trillion bytes per centimeter!). If you pick up a disc with 500 million storage spots (present day CD-ROM), in the same size storage disc you are going to have probably 500 million times one million storage spots. That's why people are really fascinated. V.C.: I take it that the technology is at a fundamental level of research. Have you done a "blackbox" yet? Mr. Yalcintas: No, and we are probably not going to. This office receives 15 to 20 inventions per month. We analyze them and try to license them. If there is a stumbling block with industry, we can go out one more step to develop. We have maturation funding we can use for further study, but for this project I don't believe it will be necessary. When we show the data, people are fascinated. V.C.: Have you licensed the technology yet? Mr. Yalcintas: We have been talking to over 40 companies, 15 of which requested non-disclosure information. Four of them have already signed, and we have released full information to them. V.C.: What are other advantages of your new technology? Mr. Yalcintas: You can specify what part of the information can be accessed for security purposes. It can be made secure, so the military will be delighted. You can identify an access frequency for someone and he can't read the rest of the disc. Also, much more information can be entered at current optical disc speeds. The speed for current optical discs is identified at somewhere near 1800 to 1900 rpm. I have heard of some to 3000 rpm. Winchesters are somewhere near 3600 rpm. This is just a concept, it has not been tried, but we have reason to believe very strongly that you can apply two substrates instead of one. With the same laser, or frequency, you will be receiving two different signals from two different substrates. At the same speed at the same spot, two sets of information will be coming to you. Two different molecules, with two different signals. Hit [ENTER] to continue

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