Hard disk improvements taken with a pinch of salt

Extra salt may be a great way to increase blood pressure and lead you to an early grave, but it can also help cram some extra data onto a hard disk, or so a group of scientists claims.

According to a team at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) over in Singapore, it is possible to increase a hard disk’s density by adding the humble table condiment.

In fact the well-seasoned process developed in a way which can increase data recording density six fold over existing hard disk models.

This means it is theoretically possible to reach densities of 3.3 Terabit per square inch with a pinch of sodium chloride.  Of course, we wouldn’t recommend throwing a weighty harddrive over your left shoulder for good luck.

A hard drive which holds 1 Terabyte of data could, in the future, hold 6TB at the same size, if the technique can be successfully commercialised.

The method works by packing structures which hold information in the form of bits more tightly, using nanopatterning. This is opposed to conventional hard disks which have randomly distributed nanoscopic magnetic grains, and are able to hold up to 0.5 Terabits per square inch.

In the past it hadn’t been possible to manipulate the bits individually as they were not able to see them. But a lithography process which put in a pinch of sodium chloride into production was able to produce highly defined bits that could be manipulated and packed more tightly.

According to the team, the method is very much like “packing your clothes in your suitcase when you travel”. “The neater you pack them,” they said, “the more you can carry”.