Harnessing Light 2 misses optical data storage opportunity

Nov. 1, 2012
In light of the just issued "Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation", which was virtually absent any real discussion on optical data storage with the exception of a minor mention of heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) media, consideration of alternative approaches to high-density memory technologies leveraging optics seems appropriate.

In light of the just issued "Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation" (a.k.a. Harnessing Light 2), which was virtually absent any real discussion on optical data storage with the exception of a minor mention of heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) media, consideration of alternative approaches to high-density memory technologies leveraging optics seems appropriate.

According to Seagate (Cupertino, CA) CEO Stephen Luczo in his Forbes magazine interview of Apr. 12, 2012, while HAMR does promise an eventual gain in areal density—the number of bits stored per square inch of storage media—of 40 to 50%, "Storage demand growth right now is over 50% in the cloud." In other words, how do you bridge the gap for the future, when growth needs are exponential? Holographic data storage? Let's take another look!

Access Optical Networks (AON; Monmouth Junction, NJ) continues to develop a next-generation nanophotonic-based data storage technology that is capable of scaling by more than two or three orders of magnitude the density and read/rewrite performance or data transfer required over the next decade. The initial introduction of a 1 Tbyte density, 5.25 in. form-factor data storage device with a transfer rate of 1 Gbit/s will support future capabilities including quantum encryption and content searches. Within the next 18 months, we expect to up the memory packing density by 10X to yield a manufacturable, optically interconnected, cost-effective memory technique.

Regarding Harnessing Light 2, a question that should be asked is, "How could this report be leveraged to help build sustainable growth in the manufacturing of advanced photonics in the USA?" We suggest that nanophotonic/holographic storage technology be a strategic investment target throughout the next few years, leveraging domestic IP and presenting an opportunity for a cost-effective product suite manufactured in the USA.

Glenn Gladney
Access Optical Networks (AON)
President and Cofounder

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