New Optical Memory Cell Achieves Record Data-Storage Density

Researchers have demonstrated a new technique that can store more optical data in a smaller space than was previously possible on-chip. This technique improves upon the phase-change optical memory cell, which uses light to write and read data, and could offer a faster, more power-efficient form of memory for computers.

In Optica, The Optical Society’s journal for high impact research, researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Exeter and Münster describe their new technique for all-optical data storage, which could help meet the growing need for more computer data storage.

Rather than using electrical signals to store data in one of two states—a zero or one—like today’s computers, the optical memory cell uses light to store information. The researchers demonstrated optical memory with more than 32 states, or levels, the equivalent of 5 bits. This is an important step toward an all-optical computer, a long-term goal of many research groups in this field.

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