New solid state technology could make CDs obsolete in 5 years

Scientists have developed a new solid state memory storage technology that could make optical discs obsolete in five years.  This memory storage uses organic and inorganic materials layered together in a circuit grid to store data.  Each 1cm cubed paper-thin device holds over a gigabyte and can physically resemble a memory chip.  It can be read by simply plugging it into a suitable reader as with any regular flash card.  Unlike
flash products however, once information is recorded on the chip it becomes
permanent; just like with CD-R’s and DVD+/-R’s.


In its blank state, each point in the grid can conduct electricity and thus marks a ‘1’ bit.  To record data on the grid, it is just a matter of placing a high voltage across the appropriate row and column electrodes to fuse the required points to mark with a ‘0’ bit.  A low voltage is placed on the grid’s row and column electrodes to read the states.  As with other flash products, no moving parts are required to write to or read from the media. 

Compact discs could be history within five years, superseded by a new generation of fingertip-sized memory tabs with no moving parts.

Scientists say each paper-thin device could store more than a gigabyte of information – equivalent to 1,000 high quality images – in one cubic centimetre of space.

Experts have developed the technology by melding together organic and inorganic materials in a unique way.

They say it could be used to produce a single-use memory card that permanently stores data and is faster and easier to operate than a CD.

It’s claimed that turning the invention into a commercially viable product might take as little as five years.

The card would not involve any moving parts, such as the laser and motor drive required by compact discs. Its secret is the discovery of a previously unknown property of a commonly used conductive plastic coating.

US scientists at Princeton University, New Jersey, and computer giants Hewlett-Packard combined the polymer with very thin-film, silicon-based electronics.

The device would be like a standard CD-R (CD-recordable) disc in that writing data onto it makes permanent changes and can only be done once. But it would also resemble a computer memory chip, because it would plug directly into an electronic circuit and have no moving parts.

A report in the journal Nature described how the researchers identified a new property of a polymer called PEDOT.

PEDOT, which is clear and conducts electricity, has been used for years as an anti-static coating on photographic film. Researchers looked at ways of using PEDOT to store digital information. In the new memory card, data in the form of ones and zeroes would be represented by polymer pixels.

When information is recorded, higher voltages at certain points in the circuit grid would “blow” the PEDOT fuses at those points. As a result, data is permanently etched into the device. A blown fuse would from then on be read as a zero, while an unblown one that lets current pass through is read as a one.


As with CD and DVD recorders, pricing will need to be reasonable for this to be become a success.  While solid state flash products are rather expensive compared with CDs, their main advantage is fast read and write speeds, small physical size as well as handling multiple rewrites.  If this new technology comes cheap, it looks like new game consoles will be back to fast loading cartridges once again.  😉 


I am sure that both the gaming, movie and music industry will try to push this on as it will be their main chance to cripple it with new DRM technologies.  While in the past new technology was always something nice to look forward to, today most are having a look at the dark sides to what new technology brings with it.  Hopefully it does not come to the point where camcorders and microphones enforce DRM restrictions or one day, consumers will start going back to trustee analogue equipment, unless a new law comes out to prohibit the sale of analogue equipment. 

Source: Ananova Technology News