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March 2nd, 2008
TWO weeks ago, Toshiba hit the headlines when the giant Japanese multi-national announced it would no longer manufacture high-definition DVD players and recorders. It was seen as a massive victory for backers of the new Blu-ray Disc technology, which can store 50 gigabytes of data - or almost six times the capacity of a dual-layer DVD.
But Professor Min Gu is already predicting the death of Blu-ray. The director of the centre for micro-photonics at Swinburne University says demand for increased optical disc storage is expected to grow exponentially and, within five to 10 years discs of a one-petabyte capacity - more than 50,000 times what current DVDs can hold - will be required.
Talking to Professor Gu is like listening to a science-fiction novelist describing a new world of high-tech devices: 3-D television screens broadcasting high-definition stereoscopic films from a nano-crystal player operating in five dimensions; satellite images beamed to military installations on earth recording more data on a single disc than could be held on 100,000 regular DVDs.
With a $1 million, five-year grant from the Australian Research Council, the Swinburne team is using nanotechnology to break the Blu-ray barrier. Because Blu-ray uses a blue-violet laser to read and write data, Professor Gu says it is limited at the ultraviolet end.
"We want to record multi-dimension information, recording three dimensions on a disc but also in different colours at different wavelengths and with different polarisations of light so we can make use of five dimensions," he says.
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